AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two good friends are getting ready to take care of some unfinished business. Austin Police Officer Matt Harmatuk and cycling instructor Dave Garza never made it to the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. They were almost to mile 26 when the first of two bombs went off.
“We had heard the explosions, but we thought based on other races, hey, that’s pretty cool, they fired some cannons,” said Harmatuk.
They were stopped by a police officer and recall a woman nearby looking at her phone and yelling, “Oh my God, there’s been explosions. Lots of people have been hurt.”
Three people died and 264 others were injured. The wife of a runner on their team was hit with shrapnel.
“To have your mind switch from finishing to surviving…I was very lucky to have Matt there to ground me and say, ‘this is what we have to do, this is where we need to go,'” Garza said.
The two were running for an organization called Cheyanna’s Champions4Children which helps Central Texas children battling diseases who do not have the strength to do it themselves.
This year will be different. They plan to cross the finish line together.
“We’re not gonna let these actions deter us from this historical event,” said Harmatuk.
They will join 36,000 Boston Marathon runners, 9,000 more than last year. About 245 runners live in Central Texas.
The day also marks a milestone for Garza. It will be his 20th marathon to complete. Matt has lost count, but says he has run in more than 20.