American Magazine April 2014


American University is located in Washington, D.C., at the top of Embassy Row. Chartered by Congress in 1893 to serve the public interest and build the nation, the university educates active citizens who apply knowledge to the most pressing concerns facing the nation and world.

Students engage with leading faculty experts and world leaders, learning how to create change and address issues including the global economic crisis, health care, human rights and justice, diversity, the environment and sustainability, immigration, journalism’s transformation, corporate governance, and governmental reform.


Q. You’ve run 12 marathons (winning 2). What makes

the Boston Marathon so special?

A. Boston’s one of the most competitive marathons in

the world—but it’s the spectators that make it. Without the

people, it would just be another race.

I thought 2012 was the year, but it just wasn’t meant to

be because of the weather. It was really hot. Heat is like

Kryptonite for me. I learned that the hard way that day and

actually dropped out. I knew I would be back.

Last year we had perfect racing weather. It was 50

degrees, maybe a slight headwind, but you knew you had

a real opportunity to enjoy everything the course has

to offer. There’s no city that so thoroughly embraces its

marathon like Boston. The support you get is unbelievable.

Literally miles and miles of the course are lined with people

screaming as loud as they can. You can tell it’s important

to them that they give this experience to the runners.

I crossed the line in 2:37. It wasn’t my best time, but I

gave everything I had. I also knew immediately I would be

back. My flight was later that afternoon, and I remember

we got on the plane and the pilot told us three people died.

It was crushing. My wife and I just started sobbing. It was

heartbreaking, especially after just experiencing a city that

so fully gives itself to you.

I think it made me more resolute. I know that it’s just a

race, but in terms of repaying what Boston gives to you on

that day, I don’t know how to do that other than go out and

give the absolute best effort I can, because the Boston fans

really appreciate and acknowledge that.

Mercer plans to run his third Boston Marathon on April 21.

To find out how he does, visit Sidebar, American magazine’s



SOC/MA ’12

Speechwriter, U.S. Department of Transportation

Senior editor, Run Washington

“I became the

person I was

supposed to be

once I started

running every

day. People often

say a successful

athlete has a gift,

but running itself

is a gift. It gave

me tons of time

to think, and a

much clearer

sense of purpose

and direction.”


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