Lee-Callaghan featured in 4:09:43

Clayton Hunt
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Boston Marathon experience in print

Who would have ever thought that a little girl from Gaultois, Newfoundland, a community of less than 200 people, would be part of a book by a world famous author?

Heather Lee-Callaghan running in the 2013 Boston Marathon.

Probably no one.

But Heather Lee-Callaghan, who now lives in Timberlea, Nova Scotia, is one of 75 runners profiled in a book by Hal Higdon, one of the most famous personalities in the world in running circles.

Every serious runner in the world is familiar with Higdon and many use his book “Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide” to train and prepare for marathons.

Lee-Callaghan was one of the 25,000 runners in the 2013 Boston Marathon which became very famous, or infamous, following the terrorist bombings which resulted in several deaths and a number of severe injuries.

Even though Heather was not injured in the attack, she posted a blog about her experience at Boston just three days after the April 15 run that was seen shortly after by Higdon.

The famous author contacted Heather on April 24 to ask if she would allow him to use her profile in a book.

Now, a runner receiving a Facebook message from Hal Higdon would be like a member of a local rock band receiving an email from Paul McCartney asking if he/she would like to be profiled in a book about rock that the famous Beatle was writing.

“I couldn’t believe it at first,” Heather said, “I thought it was a scam, but I quickly realized it was Mr. Higdon.  We’re friends on Facebook and we then started communicating back and forth.

“Of course, I readily agreed to be part of the project as it’s quite an honour to be part of any work by Hal Higdon, one of the most famous runners in the world.

“It’s one thing to have people read your blog online, but it’s surreal to be one of the 75 runners that Higdon profiles in his book.

“There were 25,000 participants in the 2013 event and to be one of the 75 profiled is very special to me. When someone like Higdon takes what you’ve written and wants to use it in a book, it feels very special to me.”

Over the next few months Higdon kept in contact with Heather to keep her up to date on the book and to check on various points that he wanted to clarify.

The first version of the book was available online and could be purchased through e-books back in October.

A trade paperback back version will be in American bookstores in February.

Lee-Callaghan will get to meet Higdon for the first time when she participates in the 2104 Boston Marathon later in April.

“I’m really looking forward to meeting him,” she said. “It will be very exciting to be in that very elite company with Higdon and some of the other runners he has profiled.”

Hal Higdon first competed in the Boston Marathon in 1958 and has run in 18 events. His highest finish was fifth place in 1964. He has gone on to become a guru in the running world and many runners still use his training techniques.

He is a contributing editor to “Runner’s World”, one of the world’s best magazines devoted to runners.

Higdon said that after the bombings at the 2013 Marathon he became inspired to write a book about the event from the runners’ point of view.

“I have a very strong presence on Facebook, “Higdon said. “After reading a number of blogs about individual experiences I realized that the runners would probably like a book written about the incident from their point of view. This book would not focus on the terrorists primarily or even on the victims.

“ When reading the blogs I realized that the experiences by everybody that ran Boston on that fatal day were both the same and incredibly different.

“And it occurred to me that a lot of those stories, once the smoke had settled on Boylston Street, would float away into cyberspace. It was my desire to preserve these Boston 2013 experiences that inspired me to write 4:09:43, which was the actual time the first bomb exploded that day.

“One I pushed the go button, I appealed on Facebook and Twitter for everyone to send me their stories which expanded my reach. You could say this is the first book about a major crime written through social media.”

Higdon said that the book does not contain 75 chapters with one devoted to each runner. The book is written as a single narrative, so it’s like a story from one runner with 75 pairs of eyes.

“One of those pairs of eyes belong to Lee-Callaghan,” Higdon said. “I found some reason to use something from each of the 75 profiles. Heather had a lot of good points about her experience on that infamous day at various points in the race. I picked up some of those points and used them in the book.”

Higdon said that he is looking forward to meeting Heather and some of the other runners he profiled in his book during the 2014 Boston Marathon.


Geographic location: Boston, Timberlea, Nova Scotia Boylston Street

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