Independence police officer runs in Boston Marathon in memory of Officer Blaize Madrid-Evans
Jeff Nunn had qualified several times before to run in the Boston Marathon. But the longtime Independence police officer had never made the trip to compete in the famous race, normally held on Patriots Day in April.
The 125th edition of the race got moved to October for better circumstances amid the pandemic, providing better timing for Nunn, and it also gave him a chance to honor a fallen colleague.
Wearing a shirt that said “#BlaizeOn” to honor Officer Blaize Madrid-Evans, who died in the line of duty last month, Nunn finished No. 1,204 out of more than 9,200 runners in Monday's marathon. He completed 26.2 miles in 2 hours, 57 seconds – averaging less than seven minutes a mile.
Among the 45-49 age group, Nunn was 88th.
“That was my goal,” said Nunn, who is a school resource officer at Truman High School and this year took over as the head cross country coach. “I kind of had staggered goals. If I was about 3:30 it would have been good, and anything under 3 I would be really happy with. That's almost exactly what I ran at the Gobbler Grind (last November in Overland Park), and I ran the second half faster than the first.”
Nunn's brother is the cross country coach at Raytown South High School, and he told Nunn that one of his former runners, who had just turned 36, would be competing.
“He asked me run it with him,” Nunn said. “When they offered it in October and post-COVID, I decided to do it.”
“I was in the second wave (in a staggered start), and I still ended up in a thick sea of people. I was kind of weaving my way through the whole time. It's the biggest race I ever been a part of.”
Being so far back from the actual start line when the opening gun went off, Nunn actually ran 29 minutes before he reached that start time.
“It was really nice to see all the people out,” Nunn said. “The streets were just lined with people the whole way, cheering the whole time. It's really well run; it's gone on for so long, obviously they know how to do it.”
A Truman High School alum, Nunn was an all-state swimmer who took up running after college and has kept up with it “off and on” for more than 20 years. Coaching, running and leading Bible study, he says, help him maintain good mental health with an often hectic and at times traumatic career in law enforcement.
“I don't have a problem going to sleep at night,” he said.
Even so, Madrid-Evans' death at age 22 obviously hits hard. Nunn served on the honor guard for the funeral, and a local apparel company put together the officer's singlet for the race. Running the marathon so soon after the tragedy, with the special shirt, provided an ideal way for him and others to remember Madrid-Evans.
“I don't want him to ever be forgotten,” Nunn said.