Red Lodge Boston Marathon veteran returns in triumph

Photo by Julia Berve

Jim Berve at the Boston

Marathon this week.

On Monday, April 21, Jim Berve of Red Lodge, returned to the site of last year’s horror in Boston to run the Boston Marathon for the 3rd time. “That’s what made me want to do it, put a spike in it!” he said. He had no hesitations.

“Last year, when you crossed the finish line after it went off, there was no winner, there was no high fiving. Everyone was down.” They quickly ushered people off and stopped the race.

Berve crossed the line 20 minutes before the bomb went off, only to learn about it as he stood in the finish area.

“The worst thing was where my wife, Julie, was. We were separated. I don’t run with a cell phone.” A runner herself, but with a knee injury that year, Julie was volunteering at a water station. “

She was away f r om the b omb e d area, ” said Berve, “receiving automatic text updates on my progress.”

Julie received a text that he had just crossed the finish line. However, Berve said somberly, there was a little delay in the texts. “She didn’t know if I was alive or not. It was about a half hour before we found each other so she was pretty worried.”

He recalled that last year. “You couldn’t go towards the bomb scene. We all had to go in the other direction. They opened up barricades. The cops took over, the FBI and SWAT.”

Law enforcement started moving people into buildings that were then put on lockdown. The Berves' were able to make it to their hotel. Since everyone was kept there the hotel restaurant didn’t empty and in fact, closed with its diners inside.

“It was weird,” he explained. “We couldn’t get any food. Finally, late that night, they opened the restaurant and let people leave.”

There were 36,000 registered runners this year, said Berve, and about a million spectators. “Montanans can’t fathom that many people. I’ve never seen so many in my life. ”

Berve works for Fisher Construction in Billings. “They built my house in Red Lodge. We had a cabin in Red Lodge for 3 years and decided to make Red Lodge our home.” They will move in May.

“Fisher also built the Beartooth Hospital and The Willows,” he said proudly.

Berve said the Boston Marathon is the most televised sporting event except for the last national football game of the year.

When running in Boston, Berve follows the “constant roar” of the spectators for 26 miles with people packed “15 people deep all the way.” The experience was a healing time for him. Berve’s son, Mike, 24 and his fiancé, his daughter, Stacy, 26, and her boyfriend, all came to Boston to cheer him on.

“Last year, it was like nobody finished,” he reflected. This year, when he came to the finish line where the crowd’s roar reached a crescendo he said, “It was pretty moving. This year was spectacular.”