The roads we travel, the people we meet, and the challenges we endure connect us. After spending almost two weeks running, riding and socializing with Boston athletes, we feel deeply connected to the community and this week’s events. Like many of you, we can’t stop thinking about April 15 – the highs and lows of that day, how to react and what to do next.
In a short twelve days, our team of four made Boston our home. Between our November Project workouts, joining the Davis Square Evening Runners, running with the historic Somerville Road Runners, and meeting our incredible local ambassadors, we felt like we were part of the community, almost instantly. The amazing people we met and the stories we heard fueled us as we gained momentum towards marathon day.
Marathon Monday is always a whirlwind of emotions for the athletes and spectators alike. We woke before sunrise to make our way to Athletes’ Village, which was swarming with people trying to calm their nerves, stay warm and occupy themselves while awaiting their start time. Handing out gloves to hundreds of runners, chatting with them and wishing them luck before the race will stand in our minds as one of the most inspiring and connecting experiences of the week.
We hustled from Hopkinton back to Brookline to secure our place at mile 23 along the course. The crowd and energy built throughout the day, and as impressive as it was to watch the leaders of the pack, we were just as inspired by the runners who were running their first, twentieth and 59th marathon. The sheer number of runners seemed to multiply as time passed. You could see a shared glimmer in their eyes as they all – tired and salty – headed down Beacon Street toward the finish. We whistled, clapped, and cheered till our voices went hoarse.
As for the rest of the day? It’s all a blur. Our minds raced as we recounted the runners we’d seen, trying to figure out if they were safe. We reached out to the people we had met in the previous weeks to check in on them and felt helpless to do anything more. And our hearts broke when we saw the coverage of what happened at the finish line. We were angry and sad all at once.
Since our team arrived back in San Francisco, we’ve been replaying the memories of our encounters with all of you. Just the day before the race we had met up with runners at that same finish line to exchange marathon stories and wish them well. It’s impossible to understand why this happened, but it is clear that the running community has become even stronger and continues to rally around one another in the wake of the aftermath.
The outpouring of support in the community has been profound – from the runners who ran directly from the finish line to hospitals to donate blood, to the people who offered places to stay and food to eat, and to those who removed their finisher medals from around their necks and gave them to runners who were stopped short of crossing the finish line.
We want to make sure that you, our fellow marathon runners and friends in Boston, know that we can’t stop thinking of you. As a small first step toward what we can do next, this run is a salute to you – and a call to #runforboston.