Rich Havens Recalls His Decision To Award Marathon Medals To Everyone

Boston Marathon 2013 medalFinish area coordinator Richie Havens has completed the Boston Marathon over 10 times since 1980, but one of his favorite events was turned upside down on April 15, 2013, when two bombs went off near the finish line, causing many runners to dart to safety rather than to the end of the race.

Throughout that chaotic Monday evening, Havens made a crucial choice that went against the running community’s usual expectations. He decided to award a medal to every single person who raced, not just those who crossed the finish line.

“Their race was not finished because their bodies gave up, their race was finished because of what an outside force did,” Havens told FOX Sports. “So when these people came to pick up their bags, they thought that’s all they were going to get, but we were not going to end it there. We were going to say, ‘By the way, you forgot something,’ and drape a medal around their neck.”

Havens said that he does not regret his controversial decision. He looks forward to a conventional medal ceremony this year, but he will always treasure the experience of distributing a medal to every runner, even those who were robbed of the opportunity to finish.

“When we made that decision and started handing them (medals) out to people and saw the range of emotions that were displayed, it gave me a personal satisfaction,” Havens said. “It was emotional for me to know that I made the right call…I’m glad we did the right thing.”

Photo via Twitter/@ScottRigsby