The San Francisco Marathon Ambassadors were out in force at the 2014 Boston Marathon. Like for many other runners, this marathon was our chance to honor the victims of the tragic events of last year, and also to pay tribute to the great people of Boston.
The Boston Marathon, more than ever, has shown to the world that it is the model of all marathons. Why is it so special? Yes, it is the oldest annual marathon, and the one that only admits accomplished marathoners based on qualifying standards. But yesterday’s marathon showed that it is much more than that.
Is there any other city that lives in perfect unison with its marathon like Boston? Boston is strong, as we have heard over and over since last year’s events. The total, unconditional success of the 2014 marathon made it stronger.
Celebration and camaraderie started at the finish line, where thousands gathered during the hours preceding the start of the marathon.
Runners then had the pleasure of attending their pasta dinner, a tradition not to be missed in Boston, where for the occasion the mayor, the race director and Bill Rodgers themselves served pasta to runners.
There were many more runners this year, 9,000 more to be precise, for a total of 36,000. It is only natural that runners had some concerns over logistics. The organization handled the extra strain wonderfully. To start, the restrictions on checked bags, well explained in advance to runners, did not create problems. Also, the loading onto the yellow buses that take runners to Hopkinton was neatly channeled for first time through actual bright yellow “gates”. There were 47 of them, as many as the buses in each fleet departing from downtown Boston in continuous waves. Finally, once it was the time for runners to move to their start corrals in Hopkinton, they were instructed to exit the athletes’ village in a tightly controlled sequence, to everybody’s satisfaction. Great job, BAA!
Then the amazing crowds. One million spectators, twice as many as usual, lined throughout the course to cheer runners. The Wellesley students were as loud and heartening as ever. The people in Newton and beyond helped us overcome the pain of running up the sequence of hills that end with the notorious Heartbreak Hill. Where else could you find such extraordinarily heartfelt support?
This has been a marathon of high emotion. Runners observed a moment of silence in the athletes’ village to honor the victims of last year’s events, in much the same way as they had honored the victims of Newtown the year before. Nobody at some point or the other could help thinking of the tragic, senseless scenes of horror in last year’s marathon, and those haunting memories were particularly painful for those, like myself, who actually ran Boston in 2013.
On April 21, 2014, we turned a page. Meb won with an amazing performance. Boston and its 36,000 marathoners took their marathon back. It has been a memorable day.