For the first time in some years, I went to the Boston Marathon as a spectator, not a journalist. There was no need to feed those live reports to radio stations around the country. I was not looking for the wide spectrum of people to speak with about why the braved the crowds. Instead, I was simply one of those people.
I dragged my daughter along, she goes to college in Boston. We started at Fenway while the Red Sox were still playing, and stopped to watch some of the runners go through Kenmore Square. These were not the elite runners, but those who have full-time jobs and still manage to train for the grueling marathon. It was inspiring to see the determination on faces of men and women that as a child probably never dreamed they would be running this marathon.
We went toward Fenway Park, the Red Sox were still playing, the crowd was huge. There were college students, families and a lot of international visitors. The atmosphere was positive and fun and showed how the city of Boston can come together.
One of the highlights of the day, a stretch where the runners go into a tunnel and back out only to have to climb a hill, with one mile left to go. It was 3:30 in the afternoon and the crowds were still there cheering, with cowbells and encouraging each person to just keep going. A metaphor for life, just keep going and encourage others to do the same.
Since the 2013 bombings, the marathon has become synonymous with a spirit of perseverance. It has now become part of the narrative for any news organization covering the event. This year, while the Boston media honored those who died and those who survived, it seemed for the first time it was not the focus of pre-marathon coverage. This could be because the trial is over, and the city has found some closure. There were stories about survivors running the marathon, and the wreath laying ceremonies were covered live.
I will admit, seeing large trucks blocking the streets that led to the marathon route was a bit unnerving. Knowing that around the world terror attacks have become more frequent and targeting large crowds. There were security checkpoints along the route, but no one complained about the lines. In fact, many now know the routine, a clear plastic bag or no bag at all.
We stopped several times along the route to marvel at the accomplishments of the runners, and the cheer them on. It was nice for a change to be part of the day and not just an observer. It gave me a new perspective on Marathon Monday, that is more than just a day off from school and work and the kick off to the tourism season in Boston. The day is a celebration of unity, because when you looked at the runners and those who were cheering we were all one, celebrating a spectacular event that brings us all together.
Next year I am sure to be back in the thick of it as a journalist, and while those press credentials will make it easier to get around, I will have a new respect for those who make the time to cheer on friends and strangers