Leading up to the Boston Marathon I talked to many runner friends who’d done the race before. Every single one of them had a comment about the people. The runners, the volunteers, the people of Boston. Everyone tried to say how nice they are, how genuine, how much they make the race. I believed them of course but now, now I really get it. There’s something about the people, or this race, or the combination of the two that makes it so incredibly memorable and also so worth doing again.
We went to the Expo on Friday. In part I’d wanted to avoid bigger weekend crowds but we also wanted to enjoy the city leading up to the race. The Expo opened at 2pm and we were there not too long after, maybe 2:30. It was already packed and we were part of the crazy crowd with our toddler and baby loaded into the jogging stroller. While there were plenty of others there with children and strollers I still feel like we were somehow singled out to be accommodated. Getting through packet pick-up was a breeze and the other runners in line were my first introduction to the friendliness, the enthusiasm and the genuine community of the Boston Marathon.
Prior to the Expo we’d stopped at one of the hotel bathrooms with our son. I realized a bit later that he’d left a toy in there and I was waiting for the moment when he would realize it and melt down. We stopped at the same bathroom on our way back to the Expo and by pure dumb luck, the hotel employee who we were asking to let us into the bathroom happened to be carrying the exact toy we were hunting down. She saved the day!
From the people we met in restaurants to chatting on the streets, Boston was simply welcoming. That’s one of the best words for it.
On marathon day I talked with a woman on the train who was headed to the Red Sox pre-game (at 8am!). She said it was the best day in the state, no matter what. I sat next to two women from Tampa on the bus and absorbed their stories of prior Boston runs. I shared my yoga mat with a runner from Wisconsin and appreciated her stories of training in -20 degree weather. I took in the crowds of people cheering for SO many strangers! And at the finish, among my tears, a volunteer helped me into the blanket and asked me how I liked the race. He proceeded to ask me about other marathons and had a genuine interest in talking to me. It blew my mind and I cried a little more.
From the crowd support to the volunteers, there are thousands of people who made the Boston Marathon an experience worth repeating; and the people of Boston quite simply make Boston worth repeating.