“Toronto runner conquers double Boston Marathon — and much more”

Two weeks prior to last year’s Boston Marathon I disclosed to family and friends that I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I was on the street when the bombs went off… After five months off work with PTSD, I decided to return to Boston and run a double marathon to raise funds and awareness of childhood sexual abuse. During the week leading up to the race, I did over 25 media interviews about the project.

Alyshah Hasham, a reporter for the Toronto Star, provided this introduction to my 2014 Boston story in her front page article the next day:

In Monday’s early-morning darkness, Jean-Paul Bedard and his wife Mary-Anne stood together at the Boston marathon finish line.

He was about to run the marathon twice, an extraordinary feat of endurance, but one that hardly compares to his past year.

When he last ran this route last year, it was just weeks after Bedard revealed to his family that he had been sexually abused as a child.

The resurgence of those terrible memories nearly overcame him halfway through the race, forcing him to collapse on the pavement in tears. He regrouped and made it over the finish line 20 minutes before the two bombs went off, killing three people and injuring more than 200.

The experience left the Toronto English teacher with post-traumatic stress disorder, and he vowed never to return.

But he changed his mind after he found support at the Gatehouse Treatment Centre, a charity that helps survivors of sexual abuse.

He decided not just to run the Boston marathon again, but to do it twice.

As it says on his grey singlet: “Once for me and once for all the other survivors of childhood sexual abuse.”

Here are a handful of posts I put up on social media to document the day.

It’s show time! It’s 3:00 am and we are up and eating. Thanks to everyone I HIT MY FUNDRAISING GOAL! $15,500. I start running at 4:15 am. Yikes!

These awesome guys met me at the beginning of my run at 4:00am and kept me company for a huge part of my first marathon. Greg and Gines, I love you guys… By the way, Greg ran farther today than ever before. How’s that for dedication to my cause!

Encouragement in Hopkinton!
More encouragement along the route!!
Encouragement from Team Hoyt!!!

DOUBLE BOSTON MARATHON is done! I did both marathons in exactly 4:09! [I was reminded that “4:09” was the time of the first explosion last year. How freaky is that!] Biggest surprise of the day was my son and daughter-in-law waiting for me at the 41k mark. Feeling blessed… Thank you all for helping me get through a very difficult year and supporting my fundraising for the Gatehouse. I love you all!

Boston times two: 4:09 + 4:09

Quick shower… Followed by interviews with The Toronto Star, TSN, SportsNet, and FoxNews. At 6:30, I’m turning my phone off and heading out to dinner with Mary-Anne.

Look who I met!

4/22: FRONT PAGE of today’s Toronto Star! Now that puts a BIG FAT exclamation mark on a year of transformation and a HUGE thank you to all of you who so generously supported the Gatehouse charity. That little boy who spent 35 years feeling ashamed of the childhood sexual abuse TODAY feels empowered and surrounded by love.

Jean-Paul Bedard
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
April 21, 2014
Age – 47
Bib # 7232