As we began planning our trip to Boston back in October, we saw that the Muse show was scheduled the same weekend as the Boston Marathon. My sister and brother in law said that it's always a lot of fun to cheer on the athletes. They go every year and said it wasn't to be missed. The flights leaving the day of the Marathon (as opposed to the following day) were much more expensive, so we agreed to stay till Tuesday. They live just a short walk away from the course, so there wouldn't be any need to ride the train into Boston.
This was my first time spectating a marathon. My sister in law is an avid runner and has done numerous marathons (even Boston!), but we have never gone to cheer her on. (Sorry, Nat.) We walked to the town Square early, so we would get to see the wheelchair athletes, as well as the elite runners. It wasn't crowded, yet, so we were able to get a great spot.
The church bells tolled as the first wheelchair athletes pushed into town.
Natick is right at the 10 mile mark of the marathon, so most of the athletes were still going strong.
I didn't realize there were different types of wheelchairs used for these events. This one allowed the athlete to recline. Honestly, it looked like a lot harder movement than in the previous picture. I wonder how well they can see, too.
Here are some of our military men and women in full kit (boots and packs!) walking/marching the marathon! They got high fives and "Thank yous" from us.
There were several teams participating. This is Team Noah. I also saw Griffin's Friends once the waves of runners came through. Griffin has a lot of friends! There were shirts with charities and fundraisers. There were handwritten notes, "I'm running for" and then that special person's name. It was really amazing.
This young man was doing the marathon on stilts! His shirt was covered in encouraging notes from friends. It looked like he was fundraising for his high school.
Then the elite women runners tore through!
You can see that the crowd has really started to fill in. It was a wonderful event. A real family event. It was obvious that the community was proud to host The Boston Marathon!
There were also runners with guides. This man was running with a prosthetic leg, with his guide nearby. We saw guide runners with vision impaired runners, as well.
The elite men! My brother in law told me to watch the runners' feet as they passed. Many of them looked as though they were not putting their heels down at all, but running on the balls of their feet. And, I swear, it looked like they were just springing forward. So much power!
I couldn't help noticing that people's way of running varied tremendously. I always thought that runners kind of had the same form, and that's what made them "elite." It was astonishing. There were people in the usual excellent posture, tucked arms that one expects. But there were also runners (and they were doing well!) that had pretty poor posture and flailing arms. I guess you do what comes naturally or what is most comfortable.
And then things got a little silly. We saw fairies, Wonder Women, Superman, loads of crazy colors (I can't unsee the neon pink tight, tight outfit one guy wore! *shudders*) One girl named April was barefoot! I called her a rock star. I wonder if her feet held up the entire race.
We cheered non-stop for the runners. If you had your name written on your shirt or bib, we yelled encouragement. (And several people said thanks for that individual cheer!) We got lots of sweaty high fives. We even got to see my brother in law's friend! He ran over to say hello and gave us all high fives.
Here's Team Hoyt. You may have seen inspirational videos of this father/son team, who are from Boston! No wonder the cheers were through the roof!
We were caught up in the excitement! It's hard not to be excited. Waves and waves of runners passed by and scores of people cheered them on.
After a few hours we headed back to the house. A little while later I received a text from a friend. "I heard about the explosions in Boston, checking that you weren't nearby." I texted back that we were ok, and then texted my mom, just in case she thought we might be in Boston. I went downstairs to learn the horrible details that were pouring in from the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Two explosions (later identified as bombs) had occured. People were killed and survivors were grievously wounded. We watched, with the rest of the world, as more news filtered in. Horrified.
We left early the next morning for the airport, expecting security to be very tight. We had ticketing issues (shakes fist at Airtran for messing things up on our record), so it was good that we were there early. There was a heavier security presence, but getting through was no big deal. The guy at the X-ray machine called out to me as I walked away with my gray box, "Hey Cinderella, you forgot your shoe!" While we were at Logan International airport, a plane was being evacuated. But...we got on our flight in good time and got home safely.
It was a wonderful trip. A lovely trip! I'm sad that the marathon ended in tragedy, but heartened by all of the bravery, courage, and just plain kindness shown in the week since.