I love Boston. Yes it’s probably because it’s my hometown, the area where I grew up, where I became a fan of the Red Sox, Patriots & Celtics. It’s where I learned to play lacrosse & go skiing. It’s where my family still lives. And it’s also where I became a fan of the Boston Marathon, watching it as a young child all the way through to my college years. It was at that time that I saw women running the race while thinking to myself “if they can do this, I can do this” and thus my long distance running career began.
After running my first marathon, I joined a running club and the subtle pressure (or motivation) to qualify for & run Boston was there. I qualified for Boston in my 2nd marathon and ran it the following year (in 1996). Most recently I ran it again in 2011. So when the bombings happened last year, I was PO’d to put it nicely (read my prior blog post about the event here). It affected the city, the running community and me. I had to get back there.
So this year, instead of running, I went up as a fan and did what I did as a young girl. We went to the Red Sox game (an 11:00am game, purposefully done so people can watch the race) and as soon as the game was over, went out to the racecourse to watch the runners go by. Fenway Park, home to the Red Sox, is right at mile 25, so it’s just a short walk across the parking lot to see the runners.
This year, we took the bus into the city and got off one stop early so we could walk the last ½ mile to the ballpark. The walk took us backwards along the racecourse, starting from about the 25½-mile mark back to the 25-mile mark. There were cops everywhere; I couldn’t believe it (well maybe I could, they said security would be tight). We had to pass through a security checkpoint and have our bags checked. Within 5 minutes of walking, we saw a bunch of cops cars & motorcycles with lights flashing, approaching us on the course with the first wheelchair athletes behind them. How cool! I forgot the wheelchair athletes started the race 45 minutes before the runners, and since they go faster, they were approaching the finish line a little before 11:00am. We stood & watched them fly by, peeking through the people watching in front of us. We then saw the first woman wheelchair racer go by. Everyone was cheering them on. There were fans along the course, but nothing compared to what was ahead.
We went into the Red Sox game & had fun cheering them along, even though they lost 7-6. While an old, rusty ballpark, there’s nothing quite like being in Fenway Park. As soon as the game ended, fans flooded the streets to watch the marathon. By this time, the elite runners & the faster runners had finished, and we were watching the group that would finish in about 3 hrs 45 minutes or longer. It was packed. I stood three people deep watching the runners go by. Everyone was screaming, cheering these people on. It gave me goose bumps just to see the energy in the city. The bombers didn’t stop Boston. They energized people.
After a little while, we walked back and our day was complete. They said this was the take-back-our-marathon kind of marathon, and that it was. The day brought a sense of healing to many people. And for that, I am grateful.