Boston Marathon 2013
The Boston Marathon has been a symbol of the independent culture and spirit of New England for as long as anyone can remember. Folks come from all over the region, the country and the world to participate. Most athletes train for months for this one single event and run competing only with themselves. And thousands of folks from all over the world turn out to cheer them on; it’s a celebration of Boston, of spring, and of the spirit of the Patriots.
Yesterday the 117th Boston Marathon started out to be a spectacular day. The weather was cool, clear and crisp. The schools and courts were closed to honor Patriots Day and we closed the office to attend the festivities. Tens of thousands of folks were lined up along the 26 mile route. We were near the 24 mile mark just east of Coolidge Corner in Brookline. The local restaurants played music onto the street and served food outside. Beacon Street was packed with people; women cheering, men shaking tambourines, photographers taking pictures, parents teaching children to clap for the athletes. There was a non-stop excitement that made the celebration communal and non-competitive.
The wheelchair athletes came by first. They are amazing: focused, driven, and less than two miles from their own personal victory at that point. Then the elite runners came by with a caravan of camera vehicles, motorcycles and police. There was a lot of excitement but the most excitement came next as the rest of the marathoners, the thousands and thousands of athletes, who came to Boston to compete, came by. They were amazing…some were struggling so much they were falling over (and getting right back up), some limping as they ran, some were pumping their fists, and others lifting their hands to get the crowd to cheer louder. Most were just focused and ran. The crowd loved them all; they had two miles to go but were already triumphant!
The police and National Guard were friendly, working with folks to keep things safe. They allowed crossing when there was a gap, they assisted women with baby carriages, and they worked with a local physician trying to get to work but needed detour information. The Marines marched by with heavy packs and got big cheers along with the athletes.
Then the tragedy happened.
Today, in Boston, it is not the typical day-after-the-marathon. There are the Boston Sports Club jackets being worn everywhere, but the mood is different from prior years. It’s not thousands of tourists enjoying Boston; its sad folks trying to make sense of things. Everyone here knows someone effected by the events: one friend, a half a mile from finishing her first marathon, wasn’t allowed to finish, another friend went to pick up his son who finished the marathon and then couldn’t get out of the city; our associate, Peter Szechenyi, was in a law office near the finish line, and was not allowed to leave for hours because of security; our legal assistant had just finished watching the Red Sox game and was walking to the finish line to see friends finish when she was herded away by the police following the events. Everyone here is a part of the tragedy.
For the fallen, for the first responders, official and unofficial, and for the city of Boston that grieves today, we offer our sympathy.