Time heals all wounds…these are very poignant words, and although I believe them to be true, I also think people and love have the power to bring happiness back to such a tragic day.
Last year a terrible thing happened to the city of Boston and to the running community. At one of the city’s most celebrated events, the 117th running of the Boston Marathon, chaos turned into tragedy at the finish line. Three people were killed and many others were injured. Watching these events unfold, it all seemed surreal. How could such a happy day for so many turn into a panicked emergency scene so quickly? A day that many spent their whole lives looking forward to was plagued by an unimaginable scenario. Why would anyone target innocent bystanders, mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons, all there to cheer on the great feat of running a marathon? While some of the “why” questions have been answered, many will not. But as always, time does not stand still. So here it is, Boston, a year later.
Many stories were told during the year, some happy and many sad, but all full of determination and strength. While pain and fear might stop some, it did not stop the City of Boston, the runners or the spectators. The outpouring of support for the City stretched world-wide. The Boston Strong logo was embraced by all and the light of humanity never shined more brightly.
People young and old came back a year later to say, “You cannot break the human spirit.” Record crowds filled in the 26.2 mile stretch of the course to cheer on all who came to run. Some for the first time, and some seasoned veterans who felt the call to come back and run it once more. The Marathon this year had a record-breaking number of participants – over 36,000!
Hernan Sabio, a banker in Winston-Salem, ran his 5th Boston Marathon. His wife Lesha, who has also run Boston, was excited to come back with their daughter and cheer for her husband and for Boston. “We knew we wanted to come back, and continue to support this great race!” said the Sabios.
Justin Pfrender, a local runner for Ultimate Race Management, ran his first Boston Marathon this year. His wife Cheryl was there to cheer him on at Hereford, before the final turn onto Boylston. “Knowing I had friends and family cheering along the course was great, the crowd support was incredible, and I am already planning my training for next year!”
There were over 40 runners from the Triad area and over 600 runners from North Carolina. But on April 21, 2014, Patriots Day, it didn’t matter where you came from – everyone was running for the same reason: to show that the spirit of the runner could not be broken. The air was electric with support and unity. Cheers, screams and cowbells could be heard throughout the 26.2 mile route. Spectators found viewing spots early and crowds packed in and waited anxiously to see loved ones pass by and then stayed for hours just to continue cheering for complete strangers.
Nowhere was the cheering more thunderous than on Boylston Street, the final four blocks to the finish line. For those lucky enough to be on Boylston, the excitement of seeing the runners cross the finish line was memorable – runner after runner, accomplishing their goal of being a Boston Marathon finisher, each one honoring those who were lost and those who were unable to run. Each one saying, “We will continue to run and the human spirit will get stronger with every step we take.”