Before climbing the final flight of stairs out of Kenmore station, I knew two things: that I was (1) walking into a thunderously loud crowd, and (2) going to get drenched by the cold rain of the city’s “beautiful” Memorial Day weekend weather. The second bit found immediate confirmation outside the station. The first, however, required some detective work. But only a few seconds’ worth, since not enough time had passed for the rain to soak through my jacket before a runner sped by me. Then another. And another. Eventually I found myself surrounded by a gaggle of runners—children, parents, grandparents, professionals, students—all of whom were headed for the one mile marker near Kenmore Square.
Despite the urge to join them, I turned east on Comm Ave and briskly made my way toward the finish line at Copley Square. That’s where the big yellow line was that so many racers have crossed since the first Boston Marathon in 1897. It’s also where thousands of people were unable to finish the race, hundreds were injured, and three were killed on Monday, April 15, 2013. Because of this, Andy Marx of The Most Informal Running Club Ever—or TMIRCE—and the directors of several other Boston area running clubs decided to host the #onerun event this past Saturday. When he sent the initial e-mail to “a core group of club leaders” back in April, Andy “didn’t have a sense of what the event would look like until [they] all sat down in a room together, had a few beers, and came up with the idea collaboratively.” A month on, I knew it was cold and wet as I slogged through Back Bay toward Boylston. But I also knew that the #onerun would be beautiful.
The weather, of course, proved cumbersome for some. As much as I complained to myself about my soggy fleece jacket, I knew that the dozens of volunteers and Boston police officers who’d been out there for several hours had it much worse. Plus I was at least appropriately dressed. I’m sure that many of the thousands of runners who turned out for #onerun were happy in their short shorts and racing singlets. Even so, they were all there to run, guide the runners, or cheer ‘em on. And that they did.
When I turned the corner from Mass Ave on to Boylston, I saw a beautiful site: volunteers, police, family members, friends, and well-wishers gathered outside the library at the finish line. Additionally, there were sizable groups of people positioned at both bombing sites. They stood in remembrance and revelry for the people who weren’t there and for the runners who were on their way. Grumbles to the contrary, this was probably my first favorite moment that morning. Andy’s favorite occurred after he and the other coordinators crossed the finish line a few minutes later. “As I stood there watching people come across themselves,” he recalled, “they were hugging one another, crying and smiling at the same time.”
From my vantage on the sidewalk, I watched the same people that Andy watched amass into an ever-growing crowd of runners, volunteers, and supporters as the final participants crossed the finish line. Reporters and photographers from numerous media outlets bombarded the group with questions, comments, and camera flashes. Satisfied, I refrained from joining the mix and headed home. The distance allowed me the space to recollect my second and third favorite moments. The second occurred when, out of the blue, a runner in a homemade chicken costume sped past my friends and I toward the finish line. (He crossed the finish line, but he never actually crossed the road…)
The third happened during my walk from Kenmore to Copley. Under Charlesgate a goose and her babies attempted to cross the street in the midst of morning traffic. One of the two bike cops posted at the intersection took notice and, while his fellow continued directing runners toward Kenmore, gave the geese a hand. True to form, Boston drivers honked, gestured, and yelled at the scene. The officer yelled back—a slew of words and phrases I could neither decipher from the Southie accent, nor would want to repeat here—all the while protecting the jaywalkers. #onerun participants passing by took a moment to watch the geese, swoon at the wee ones, and snap photos. I stopped too, but only for a moment.