Like every school along the 26.2 mile route from Hopkinton to Boston, Boston College has a special connection with the Boston Marathon. Whether you ran the race yourself, cheered on friends at the finish line, made a tradition of going to the 11 AM Red Sox game, or just yelled your (throbbing) head off at Mile 21, chances are, a Marathon Monday tradition became an important part of your BC experience.
That's why, as both a BC alum and a Bostonian, I felt swelling pride to take in the festivities of a truly perfect Patriots Day on Monday.
Once you got through the security checkpoints - and there were many, at the exit of each T station near the route, as well as at every intersection of a street that spilled on to Boylston - things felt about as normal as they could - festive, appreciative, and full of pride for the runners and the city. There were some different sights and sounds this year- police officers lining the route in about triple the number they did last year; the occasional helicopter buzzing overheard providing eerie reminders of the scene last year; and the lack of large, uninspected purses and backpacks.
But beyond those differences, everything else went on as it always did, with a party atmosphere enveloping the Fenway area where I was, as well as the entire course. People gathered on the grass along Commonwealth Avenue with boom boxes, picnic lunches, noisemakers and signs. Runners came by pumping up and high fiving the crowd. Occasionally a group in the crowd would recognize a friend and erupt; other times, you'd see a Marathon celebrity like Rick and Dick Hoyt, or someone running for one of the bombing victims' charities. I cheered extra loud when I saw a few BC Campus School shirts go by.
There was even, as per usual, a great "of course, because Boston" moment when women's winner Rita Jeptoo blew past an MBTA Green Line train on Beacon Street, which came as no surprise to anyone who's ever ridden the green line:
The only noticeable thing that was missing on the day that was a staple of past marathons was the "bandit" runners - unregistered, non-qualified runners without bib numbers who would take to the course anyway. That's often where you'd find some of the day's funniest highlights - a dude juggling for 26.2 miles, guys running in Bruins jerseys, the crazy guy who on multiple occasions has run from Boston out to Hopkinton pre-dawn, then finished the Marathon on the way back, for a total of 52.4 miles on the day. "Bandits" were asked not to run as part of the effort to secure the course.
That aside, though, it was a perfect day, with perfect weather, and a wonderful story of naturalized American Meb Keflezighi winning the men's race, prompting a huge cheer at Fenway Park as the news was flashed up on the jumbotron.
I wasn't at Mile 21, but someone who was captured the scene as Meb flew by, and had his video picked up by Universal Hub:
It's true that all 36,000 runners were winners on Marathon Monday, but so was everyone else who was a part of it, including the volunteers and million-plus spectators and revelers who made it a great day.
Here are a few Boston College stories from the day:
Congrats to Patrick and Jess for completing the Marathon one year after the bombing injured them both. Patrick is a BC grad and met his wife via another BC friend. They are just one of many Boston stories shared over the past year. I hope crossing the Finish Line to together ends this chapter of their lives on a high note and that they have many happy and fulfilling chapters ahead.
BC women's basketball coach Erik Johnson and some other Eagle staffers ran the race yesterday.
I guess when you're Doug Flutie, the whole "qualifying" thing is a mere formality.
I linked this earlier, but wanted to share again.
Joseph Tecce, associate professor of psychology at Boston College, discusses how Boston Marathon marks closure after last year's bombings.