My first memory of the Boston Marathon was in 1970. My dad took me right to Boylston Street, between Fairfield and Gloucester. It was pouring out as I recall. We saw Ron Hill of Great Britain going by, seemingly running the race alone, and smashing the Boston record in 2 hours 10 min. and some change. My dad taught me that day that no matter the conditions, one never leaves the Marathon course until the great Johnny Kelly runs by. I’ve seen almost every Marathon since.
There is no more optimistic day on the calendar in our neck of the woods than Patriot’s Day. The noise of the crowd builds from Newton to the finish line into a crescendo by the time the runners reach Boston College. People of all ages and faiths and persuasions cheer words of encouragement to all the participants. The air is filled with electricity of hope, generosity and spirit unmatched on any other day. I feel like I can do anything on Marathon Monday.
I skipped the Marathon yesterday. Had to go to Dedham and Canton on business and decided to celebrate my Patriot’s Day by climbing Blue Hills rather than fight my way back into the city. I hiked and enjoyed the treasures that wonderful place just outside of urbania has to offer. My thoughts were filled with Paul and Matt and the other runners from the Brookline Teen Center, all my other friends over the years who’ve run the course, and me standing with my dad watching Ron Hill.
At the top of Blue Hills I got a tweet and my heart stopped for a moment. At first, all I wanted to do was stay at the top and try to pretend it didn’t happen. Then all I wanted to do was get to the bottom of the hill. Once home, I watched the news all night. I wanted to shut off the TV and at the same time I couldn’t keep my eyes off of it.
Today I’m a little lost to be honest. This stuff happens all over the world but it’s never come this close to my hopes and dreams before. It happened on the day I and many others cherish as our favorite holiday because it’s all about just one thing, the human spirit.
My hope for next year is that even more runners run and even more cheerers cheer, but not in defiance of whatever crippled soul or souls are out there with thoughts of destruction. I hope we can live again vicariously through those wonderful runners building our optimism to the point of limitlessness.
Thank you to those who offered a room, or a couch, or a meal, or a cell phone charger to those in need yesterday when your natural instincts may have been to keep the world out. You, the first responders and those working to find the cause of this are our heroes today.
Harvey Bravman, Publisher