”It’s hard to talk about,” said Al. “That could have been my family. That could have wiped out my entire family, my wife, children and grandchildren. I’m sick thinking about it sometimes. My grandson (Al Manzi IV) was eight years old last year, just like Martin Richard.”
The Manzis to a person will tell you they are a very close family, getting together in some form or fashion, almost every week.
So when the patriarch of the family, Al Manzi II, a Massachusetts State Police trooper, decided to get in shape and run the Boston Marathon, he had a support system.
”I was working a detail at the airport with Bill Colter, who was the captain of our state police marathon team,” said Al. “He had run something like 110 marathons. He’s done Ironman Triathlons. We were talking and he said ‘You should really give it a try, Al. If you do it, they can put it in your obituary that you ran the Boston Marathon.’ I remembered telling him, ‘I guess I have to start building up my obituary.’”
After that first race in 2008, Al was hooked. Having everybody on hand made it extra special.
”When you make the turn from Hereford to Boylston Street, you have 380 yards to go until finish line,” said Al. “That’s where the highest concentration of people are. When you make the turn you are met with wall of people on both sides and you see runners start scanning for people the know.
”It makes life easier if you have landmarks,” said Al. “We used in front of that restaurant, at the mailbox. That’s the spot where it is easy to see anybody.”
Al never made it that far last year, while running with his godson, Kieran Wittbold, also of North Andover. They were about 7/10ths of a mile from the finish line on Commonwealth Avenue when everything just stopped.