The 118th running of the Boston Marathon from Hopkinton to Boston took place in the shadow of the 117th, which turned tragic when two bombs exploded near the finish line, killing three people and injuring more than 260.
This Marathon Monday offered athletes a chance to remember, reflect, and confront the memories of the past year’s tragic events.
Boston College had a strong representation in this year’s marathon, with its athletes striving to make a difference in the Boston community.
Peter Krause, an assistant professor within the political science department, kept a promise that he made in a letter to the editor in The Heightslast year, declaring that he would run this year’s marathon to honor the bombing victims.
Krause, who had no previous long-distance running experience, could not imagine the physical pain that he would endure throughout the 26.2-mile race. On Marathon Monday, his race was a tale of two marathons. Throughout the first 17 miles, Krause cruised along at his target pace of 8:15 per mile, but then the muscles in his left leg seized up and brought him to the asphalt. He was forced to trot the last eight miles with some severe muscle cramps.
Despite the pain, Krause described the inspiring sense of community he felt running alongside people with prosthetic limbs, as well as men and women in their 80s. What kept him running, he said, was the enthusiastic cheering he heard from his fellow Bostonians, especially BC students.
“Mile 21 definitely had the most passionate fans and made me proud to be an Eagle,” Krause said. “It was an amazing experience overall, and any disappointment with my injury was quickly washed away by seeing the Boston community at its best and remembering why I ran the marathon the first place.”
Although injured, Krause was able to finish the marathon with a time of 4:18:07. He is looking forward to having some time away from running, but has not ruled out the possibility of participating in another marathon.
“If a cause like this arises again, or if my competitive nature dwells on how I could have done without getting hurt, you could see me out there in the future,” he said. “In any case, you will definitely see me out there as a vocal spectator with a renewed appreciation for the sacrifices of everyone on and around the course.”
Chris Maxwell, CSOM ’16, had been training for this year’s marathon for the past three to four months. Injuries to his foot and knee were in the back of his mind as he approached the starting line on Monday.
Maxwell is an experienced runner who qualified for the 2014 Boston Marathon after completing the Baystate Marathon in Lowell, Mass. the previous year with a time of 3:01. Maxwell hit all of his mile splits, and by the end of the 13-mile mark, he was at 1:25, right on pace to hit his goal of 2:50 for the entire race.
While stretching, massaging, and physical therapy prevented any injuries from arising for a majority of the race, around the last nine miles Maxwell experienced excruciating pain in his calves as he reached Heartbreak Hill. He was forced to resort to walking and jogging the remainder of the race, finishing with a time of 3:32.
“I have never run a race in which spectators lined up pretty much the entirety of the course, and definitely not for 26.2 miles,” Maxwell said. “It was incredible to see how the city of Boston rebounded from the acts of terror, and truly shows our resilience as a city and community of runners from around the world.”
Chris Kabacinski, A&S ’16, ran the marathon for a charity organization. Kabacinski reached his goal of raising $4,000 for the Wellesley Education Foundation (WEF), an organization that funds innovative and creative projects in its school districts.
Kabacinski described the race as, “the best experience of [his] life,” although the race itself was not quite ideal. After running a strong 10K and half marathon split around seven minutes and 15 seconds per mile, he experienced severe cramping in his calves at the halfway point in the race.
“Never have I started cramping up that early in a run, and I’m not quite sure why it happened,” Kabacinski said. “The cramps in both of my legs were terrible over the final stretches on Beacon and Boylston, but the crowds and the other runners kept me moving.”
Although the race was not his personal best, Kabacinski said it was the most fulfilling race he’s ever run. The crowds of supporters from WEF at Mile 15, along with fellow BC students at Mile 21, provided the boost he needed to finish the race-not only for himself, but also for the people he represented at WEF, and for the city of Boston.
“Seeing my family on Boylston along with the rest of the crowd and running down Boylston with all the other marathoners made those last meters worth it all,” Kabacinski said. “What the Boston Marathon made me realize more clearly and more beautifully than ever before is that we runners all run for so much more than ourselves or our goals.”
Kabacinski plans to continue to make a difference with WEF, aiding the organization in any way possible. He also hopes to continue his passion of running by taking on another marathon next fall, and to officially qualify for Boston in another year.
This year’s Boston Marathon proved to be a success. A total of 35,755 athletes were registered to run the 2014 marathon, the second-largest field in the race’s history.
American runner Meb Keflizighi won the men’s title 2:08.37, the first American man to break the tape at the finish line since 1983. Keflizighi had the names of last year’s victims written in black marker on the corners of his race bib. On the women’s side, Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo won the race in a course-record 2:19.57, defending a championship from last year.
Perhaps what was most remarkable about this year’s Marathon was that of the 32,408 runners who left the starting line in Hopkinton, 32,144 officially finished, a 99 percent completion rate.
On a beautiful sunny afternoon in Boston, people were determined to finish the race, and they did.