It is hard to believe that a whole year has passed since the bombing at the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon. I had signed up for race alerts for my friend who was running, and when I received a text message saying she had finished, I put away my phone and stopped paying attention to the race.
Two hours later, I walked into Philips gym, only to find it abuzz with panic about a bombing in Boston, specifically at the finish line of the marathon. I immediately called my friend, and when she did not pick up, I panicked. That moment of confusion has a spot on my list of top ten scariest moments.
Fortunately, my friend called me back, said she was in one piece and was safe. But there were many who were not so lucky. The bombs killed three spectators, injured many others and forever changed the significance of the Boston Marathon.
A marathon is one of the most unifying sporting events, and the Boston Marathon is one of the worlds most popular marathons. Spectators show up to cheer on runners that they do not really know or care about, and the majority of people do not care much about who wins. They are merely there to watch the most determined runners complete 26.2 strenuous miles.
Historically, sporting events have had tremendous power in uniting groups of people from different backgrounds. For example, during the recent Winter Olympics, athletes, spectators and political figures banded together to support gay and lesbian athlete participation.
Major League Baseball was also welcome distraction after 9/11, and played an instrumental role in helping the nation move forward. That year, the Yankees went to the World Series, mounting late-inning comebacks in games four and five at Yankee Stadium. Although they did not win the series, they did bring together a distraught New York community and gave people something in which to believe when they had lost so much.
This year, the Boston Marathon has had a similar effect. In 2013, the joy that people found in a 26.2 mile run was shattered. But over the last year, the city of Boston has come together to make this year’s marathon more special than any other.
And that is exactly what happened. 32,408 people showed up at the starting line on Monday morning; almost 5,000 of the runners were stopped mid-race last year when the bombs went off. At 2:49 p.m., the time of the first explosion, the finish line observed a moment of silence to honor Boston and all of the people impacted by the bombings.
At the 26-mile mark, the spot where the first bomb went off, a runner’s legs gave out and he collapsed. Instead of running past him and letting medical staff attend to the fallen runner, four fellow competitors lifted him up and carried the man, determined to help him finish the race. As the group neared the end, the fallen runner used what little strength he had left to drag himself across the finish line.
It was the little acts of selflessness, the words of encouragement and the enthusiastic crowd that propelled this man and so many others across the finish line.
To add to the emotional day, an American won the marathon for the first time since 1985, with a time of two hours, eight minutes and 37 seconds. His victory was more than just a personal one; it was shared by the entire city of Boston.
For my friend and all the runners who returned to Boston, this year’s marathon helped them find the joy in those 26.2 miles that was lost one year ago. The 2014 marathon brought the city of Boston back together. Although Boston will never be the same, it will always be Boston Strong.