On Tuesday, April 15, the one-year anniversary of the Marathon bombings, the city of Boston mourned and paid tribute to all the victims. We relived that horrific ending to an otherwise idyllic race. And then we hoped to put it behind us.
However, our nation had a city taken from us when Boston was attacked during the Boston Marathon. Throughout the past year, the city has been healing. Yet even with the Red Sox winning the World Series, the wounds still ran deep. It was clear that nothing would fully heal our city, our country, not even our memorial on the anniversary. Until we took back this year’s marathon, we could never exorcise the demons of 2013. We had to run the race.
Our company has been involved with the Marathon since 2005. We typically work on race day, or a few days leading up to the race. But this year our work began as soon as the bombs went off.
We’ve always felt it a great privilege to be a part of this running institution, but beginning on April 15, 2013, it became a duty as well. Although we are only part of a small portion of the race, the message was quite clear from the start: we were going to take back our race. As we heard Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray say throughout the planning this year,
“We’re taking back our race…we’re taking back the finish line.”
This past weekend, it was in the running of the Boston Marathon that we ultimately took it back. Many of us placed an unspoken hope in New England native Shalane Flanagan. If only an American could win Boston for the first time since 1985, the country would be able to claim the prize and reclaim our great city. And though she ran the race of her life, and pushed a pace that would result in records falling, she was eventually overtaken by Rita Jeptoo and a pack of others. Jeptoo, the winner last year, was finally able to celebrate her victory, as her 2013 win was largely overshadowed by the events of the day.
Our spirits were lifted as we began to hear reports that an American was in the lead in the men’s race. An unlikely 38-year-old former Olympic medalist, Meb Keflezighi, was leading. We watched from the command trailer in Hopkinton, huddled around a TV as Meb grimaced and struggled down the stretch. We cheered as he pumped his fist and blessed himself as the finish line, and Boston Marathon Victory, came into sight. It was pure athletic achievement by an amazing American athlete. And by making the race about athletic achievement, Meb made the Boston Marathon a race again.
“I’m blessed to be an American and God bless America, and God bless Boston for this special day,” Keflezighi said after he crossed the finish line.
In that instant, the Boston Marathon became a race again, and an American city was made whole.
The Boston Marathon is now just a race again, but oh, what a race.