The Boston Marathon is pure history. The oldest annual marathon. It has been held on Patriots Day every year for the past 127 years. The race starts out of town in Hopkinton! Throughout the run you can feel the spectators' pride in this special event. In 2013 I started at this legendary marathon for the first time. It was a highlight of my life as a runner until I crossed the finish line. Every runner felt the pride of the people in this traditional race. The atmosphere along the entire route was extremely impressive.
After the finish line I was overwhelmed and very impressed by so many enthusiastic spectators! 15 minutes later, two bombs detonated close to the finish-line and turned this dreamlike day into a nightmare.
3 people died and 264 were injured, some seriously, by the cluster bombs! People who had enthusiastically cheered me and the other runners just a few minutes earlier, shortly before the finish line. After the marathon, we runners in Boston were asked again and again: you there? Did you reach the finish-line? Are you coming back? At the time, I answered “yes” to all three questions. 10 years after the horrific events, I finally returned to run the 127th Boston Marathon!
After our arrival, the events of 2013 were immediately present again! We were staying in the same hotel as then and on the way to the marathon fair we walked down the long home stretch (Boylston-St)!
My wife cheered me on at the corner of Boylston St and Herford St in 2013. 600m before the finish line where the two bombs exploded a short time later. Today there are memorial stones at both locations, which commemorate the victims of the attack. Guards of honor stood at the memorial sites throughout the marathon weekend!
"Even when our heart aches, we summon the strength that maybe we didn't even know we had, and we carry on; we finish the race! We finish the race, and we do that because of who we are, and we do that because we know that someone around the bend, a stranger had a cup of water. Around the bend, somebody's there to boost pure spirits. On that toughest mile, just when we think that we've hit a wall, someone will be there to cheer us on and pick us up of we fall."
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA - 2013
|Memorial for the victims of the bomb attack|
|Guards of honor stood at the memorial sites (Picture: Interair-Sportreisen)|
After the attack the city started a big campagne as the hashtag #bostonstrong
The safety precautions were of course stricter, but together with runners from over 100 countries we were able to celebrate a peaceful/happy runners' festival together!
On Saturday there was still the opportunity to "shake out" your legs a bit as part of the 5K race in downtown Boston ;-) Together with 10,000 other runners, this was the first running party of the long weekend!
The day before the marathon, the city center was full of people from all over the world! At Copley Square Park, just past the finish line, the so-called "Fan Fest" took place! Live music on the stage created a cool atmosphere and the adjacent home stretch had developed into a large pedestrian zone for several hundred meters! Of course, you always meet friends and acquaintances at such major events - "the (runners) world is just a village"! So we met at the "Fan Fest" with Nicole, Jörg & Fred from cologne! Together we made a short detour to the hotel of the top athletes! Not to see Eliud Kipchoge, but to visit Cori Copley, the canine ambassador at the Top Athletes Hotel [Fairmont Copley Plaza]. He's settled into the hotel environment now and has some sweet habits - he loves getting his stomach rubbed on the lobby carpet.
|Pre-Race party at the finish line|
The whole city was decorated, painted or floodlit in blue and yellow, the colors of the Boston Marathon: hotels, street lamps, churches & even the duck family statue from Boston Common Park was there!
The runners were celebrating 127 years of tradition in downtown Boston. Souvenir photos were taken in the dense crowd around the finish line. There was a special atmosphere that I had never experienced at another marathon. The Boston marathon advertises not only with the slogan "#bostonstrong" but also "ONE BOSTON"!
In the marathon magazine it was explained on several pages:
ONE CITY, ONE SPIRIT, ONE COMMUNITY, ONE INSPIRATION, ONE GOAL, ONE TRADITION, ONE TEAM, ONE STRENGTH, ONE BOSTON.
Anyone who has experienced this atmosphere during this traditional race will understand this message immediately.
The Boston Marathon runs from the town of Hopkinton to downtown Boston. It's a logistical challenge every year to bring 30,000 runners on the morning of the marathon with hundreds of school buses to the start-line in Hopkington
The safety precautions were strict:
Luggage was only accepted in special, transparent bags! In the starting area (by bus ride) you were only allowed to take snacks, bananas and drinks with you! In the city, all post boxes along the route were sealed and armed police and military police were stationed at regular intervals along the entire route. Even at the starting line, an armored vehicle with police officers and machine guns watched over us.
|so many restrooms - but everyone was occupied ;-)|
|"under police protection"|
Before the start, the runners waited on several meadows, which were assigned to their personal starting blocks. The starting blocks were called over loudspeakers. Cool music entertained us from many loudspeakers but the gaze kept going to the sky! The first heavy shower reached us!
On the way to the starting line it was fortunately dry again! The runners marched through the middle of the small town. Despite the weather, many residents sat in front of the front door and watched the incessant flow of runners over their morning coffee! One wave after the next started and off we went!
"Extra dose of motivation"
I brought the official race shirt from 2013 with me for the running event. But I wasn't the only one with this idea! Again and again I discovered runners with exactly this shirt. But there was one little thing special about my shirt! On the front you could clearly read: #bostonstrong. On 42.195 km all runners were enthusiastically cheered on, but there were a few additional shouts because of the imprint! For me it was an "extra portion of motivation"
The route initially ran slightly downhill through the rural area. It was impressive that, despite the rain, there were people everywhere along the route to cheer on us runners! Along the highway towards Boston, every place was a big or small party mile!
Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Heartbreak Hill, Boston College, Brookline, Boylston St & Copley Place
“Hard earned medals are simply the best”!!!
Despite the rain and cold, the spectators supported us between the start in Hopkinton and the finish line in Boylston St. „Boston you gave everything so that we could rock this route including Heartbrake Hill. THANK YOU!“
The first highlight was the Wellesley Girls College with the infamous "Scream Tunnel". The students stood close at 300-400m and cheered on the runners with a deafening "screech concert". You could hear them far ahead!!! Signs demanded "kisses" from the running heroes!
At kilometer 18 it got uncomfortable because it was raining non-stop! However, the support from the spectators helped us a lot and we continued towards Boston.
|Eliterunners Mile 17 (Picture: Interair Sportreisen)|
|a little bit later...... cool runners - sub 4h at mile 17 (Picture: Interair Sportreisen)|
The second highlight of an exciting route was Heartbreak Hill. Here people stood and offered the runners pieces of orange for refreshment. Exactly the right thing, because the ascending road at km 30 came at exactly the wrong time!
At the top, a banner proclaimed: TOP OF THE HEARTBREAK HILL! Yeah! After Heartbreak Hill was a gentle descent. For a long stretch, Boston College students stood close together and cheered us on! The next adrenaline shower! High five again and again! Perfect timing!
Unfortunately, the euphoria alone could not carry us to the finish. On the last few kilometers Ifelt the quite strenuous route. 1 km from the finish was the huge CITGO billboard. Visible from afar, it signals to the runners: "It's almost done".
Like 10 years ago, my wife was waiting for me at the beginning of the home stretch. Like me, she had the impression that, despite the rainy weather, many more people were waiting in the finish area and the last 600m became an extremely loud cheering stretch! Again and again the crowd cheered us on enthusiastically! And again and again we heard: "BOSTONSTRONG"
That's what I was thinking too when I ran past the two memorials for the victims of the attack in the final sprint!
In the last few meters, the "final sprint" became a mixture of sad memories of 2013 and satisfaction, because I was grateful that I came back and was able to take part in this great event!
See you soon