Cournane, 59, from the South Side of Chicago, is the ultimate marathon man. He has run 87 of them in the four corners of the world. He's also a marathon coach, who goes by Coach Brendan, teaching other runners the secret of completing those 26.2 grueling miles.
He has run the Boston race six times, so Monday's attack at the finish line hit him close to home
"Once I heard the news I had flashbacks at being at that point in the race. It was gut-wrenching. I saw the looks on the faces of the runners. I could share the emotions that they had so close to the finish and have something disruptive in such a way and not knowing what was going on. It was devastating." Cournane said.
Cournane doesn't set records when he's running marathons, but he is a champion at finishing them. He has run a marathon in all 50 states and seven continents. But it's not the race itself that thrills Cournane, it's the preparation and the companionship that he loves: the spirit of the marathon.
"The most difficult thing about running the marathon is not running the marathon, but training for a marathon and the camaraderie that you build on the long runs, the training runs that really bind the running community together. That's where a lot of the shared memories come about," Cournane said.
After Monday's tragedy in Boston, Cournane started hearing from fellow marathoners and some of his students.
"What happened yesterday strengthened the resolve of runners. Many of my runners now who want to qualify and run Boston in solidarity for those who were injured yesterday. They'd like to go back next year and the year after to show that this won't stop them," Cournane said.
So now they have a new goal besides the finish line.