The American Red Cross is proud to have Susie Kitchens, British Consul General in Boston, as a member of Team Red Cross for the 120th running of the Boston Marathon. Mrs. Kitchens has been the British Consul General since 2012. Prior to her posting here in Massachusetts, she was the Deputy High Commissioner at the British High Commission in Tanzania.
Mrs. Kitchens was nice enough to speak with the American Red Cross of Massachusetts regarding her thoughts on her time here in New England and what running the Boston Marathon means to her. To find out more, visit www.susierunsboston.com.
AMERICAN RED CROSS – What drew you to choose Team Red Cross for the 120th Boston Marathon?
SUSIE KITCHENS – I wanted to run for a cause that would motivate me on the winter training runs, and making it up Heartbreak Hill on Marathon Monday, also one that had personal meaning for me as I complete my time as British Consul General in Boston. The fact that Team Red Cross has Coach Dan ("best coach in Boston") was a great plus point: taking up marathon running is not to be done lightly, and I wanted to get good advice!
ARC – Any personal anecdote on how to push through the ‘bonk’ when the course gets difficult?
KITCHENS – I think of the body bank account. Every mile I put in training is going to make the Big Day a little more doable. When the going gets tough in training I think of Future Me on Race Day. Will I be thanking or cursing Past Me? That’s how I carry on.
ARC – And for getting up Heartbreak Hill?
KITCHENS – Run in company. I have running buddies for the Saturday long runs, none of us want to get left behind. The group gets us through!
ARC – How long have you been a runner? What’s your personal story about running the Boston Marathon?
KITCHENS – I have always been a jogger. My dad was a competitive athlete - still loves to run - and my brother and his wife run ultras. I guess it was inevitable that one day I would feel the urge to step up and go the extra mile (literally) as a runner. It took a long time, but I got there!
The Marathon Moment came for me as a meaningful way to pay respects to the City of Boston. 2016 is my last chance to run the Boston Marathon before I leave the city which I have been honored to call home for the past four years.
ARC – How do you cope with the adverse weather during winter while training for a spring marathon?
KITCHENS – I run very early in the morning so I am barely aware of what I am doing. By the time I realize I really should be cozy at home in bed, I just have to run home. And chocolate. I self-bribe easily.
ARC – Do you have a Red Cross story/connection that inspired your interest?
KITCHENS – The first marathon I experienced in Boston was in 2013. What happened was not what should have happened. The impact of the bombings on this city, and the extraordinary resilience it demonstrated, was inspiring. The calls from the UK - from our government leaders, from media, from families and friends of the British runners - smashed our 'business as usual' in a heartbeat. We lived and breathed the event as we played out our Consular role for British Nationals in the hours and days that followed. The Red Cross were an extraordinary partner, helping us track down all our British runners and cheerers (thankfully none seriously hurt) and reunite them with their loved ones. Working with such a compassionate, professional and well-respected organization made our role at the British Consulate easier and our response better. The Red Cross made an extraordinary impact on people's lives for the better on that devastating day. I will run to honor that.
ARC – In your own words, how do donations to Team Red Cross benefit the communities of Massachusetts?
KITCHENS – The Red Cross is the organization that is there for you at your most vulnerable. I have seen them respond to families across Massachusetts who suddenly find themselves bereft of all their belongings after a flood, or losing their home to a fire. The fear, the desperation, the physical discomfort and mental anguish - the Red Cross provides literal and metaphorical comfort blankets to help families get back on their feet. No one ever expects to be in that position. You do not prepare for it. Fortunately the Red Cross does. So supporting the Red Cross enables them to support your neighbors in their time of desperation.
ARC – There are several first responders on Team Red Cross. Do you have any thoughts on the 3rd anniversary of the marathon bombing?
KITCHENS – The bombings will be one of my enduring memories of Boston. The tragic loss of life, devastating injuries, and the cruel end of a time of innocence are desperately sad. But I will never forget the extraordinary spirit of the Boston’s response. Sitting with my kids to watch footage of the heroes that ran towards the victims, not away, was life-affirming and positive. Boston Strong. The grace of those survivors who spoke about the pain of their recovery in the context of feeling grateful they lived, and forever indebted to the first responders who came to their aid and put the pieces back together.
I was honored to join my Prime Minister David Cameron when he visited the finish line one month after the bombings, to pay his respects alongside Governor Deval Patrick. He thanked some of the first responders in person, on behalf of over 350 Brits who were running that day. And acknowledged the shared compassion and resolve we in the UK and our Boston friends face as victims of terror attacks.
We here at the American Red Cross of Massachusetts appreciate all that Mrs. Kitchens is doing to help spread the word about the Red Cross and what we do in local communities. To learn more about Susie, check out her marathon site at www.susierunsboston.com.