He finished! That’s right — Jim Miller completed his 100th marathon at Boston Marathon 2014, almost as planned. (See “Run, Jim Miller, Run.“) But if you had asked Jim the night before, he might not have been so sure his dream would become a reality. After walking back from the Museum of Fine Arts, Jim turned his ankle at the corner of the Omni Parker House Hotel. But with the help of an EMT who wrapped his ankle and good friend Mari who was ready with ibuprofen, Jim rallied. On race day, April 21st, Jim Miller completed his 100th race, a total that includes runs in each of the 50 U. S. states and raised over $20,000 for the Liver Foundation. Congrats, Jim!
Reason 1. Pre-race activities get you fired up and ready — even if you’re not running!
Getting ready for any race in any city is an ordeal, but Boston was dealing with the aftermath of a tragedy following the 2013 bombing. With increased security and down-to-the minute details guaranteed to make this larger, more emotional run a unifying event, pre-race activities endeared us (and the other one million spectators) to the cause so we could truly live the mantra emblazoned on t-shirts and banners: Boston Runs as One. TV reporters interviewed runners whose stories touched our hearts — runners injured last year, runners who rely on prosthetic limbs to carry them over the finish line, and runners who race — and raise money — for a cause. Boston Public Library opened its doors to Dear Boston: Messages from the Marathon Memorial, an exhibit of artifacts and photographs from the prior year. And since the 2014 marathon coincided with Easter, churches joined the celebration by scheduling Blessing of the Runners services for Sunday, April 20th, leaving many of us who attended (and many did!) teary-eyed and emotional the day before the marathon. Races of lesser lengths kicked off on Saturday the 19th — like children’s races, 5K races, mile-long races — all with precision timing and heightened security. And what we observed during pre-race days carried through the whole weekend event: almost everyone was happy, passionate, encouraging. Something special was in the air.
Reason 2. John Hancock Sports & Fitness Expo lets you peek into the commercial side of running — and it’s a BIG side!
No race of this magnitude occurs without sponsors and vendors, so when we headed over to the Hynes ConventionCenter with Jim to pick up his bib number (#23312), we also got a taste of what’s new in the running world. Familiar companies were there (Nike, Reebok, PowerBar, etc.), but newcomers like Running Skirts had a packed booth, too. Long lines formed at Runners World with fans hoping to get autographs and to shake hands with editors. The blowaway booth, however, had to be Adidas, official sponsor and producer of those must-have electric orange jackets ($110.00) and pullovers ($65.00) emblazoned with official logos. Adidas apparel and gear moved out the door as fast as someone could swipe a card on a handheld. Ka-ching!
3. A Pre-race Pasta Party can pump you up and plump you up!
Sponsored by the Boston Athletic Association, the Pre-race Pasta Party at City Hall Plaza on Sunday the 20th, was the place to be! Long — very long — lines snaked around city blocks leading runners and friends through rows of blue-shirted, swingin’-to-the-music young ladies passing out clam shell boxes for stations featuring salad, bread, and pasta: Penne Marinara, Four-cheese Baked Rigotoni, and Rotini Greek Pasta Salad. Sponsors like Samuel Adams, Bertoli, Stonyfield Yogurt, and Newman’s Own piled it on, too, and, if you trucked your own empty clam shell to the trash, you were handed a goody bag of desserts bigger than most kids get at Halloween! Thumping vibes of constant good-time music kept people happy while waiting for a table decked out with blue and white balloons. And no one went away hungry. It was carbo-loading at its best!
Reason 4. Boston Marathon 2014 leaves you thankful you can run the course or cheer ‘em on!
Race Day began at the crack of dawn when 36,000 runners left their bags behind (new procedure this year), boarded buses, and waited for their wave. Mobility impaired racers came first. Then elite men and women. Then the rest. Spectators joined in any way they could — but mostly by the T (short for MBTA). Remarkably patient T employees (and one terrific policeman) helped us find the Green Line headed toward Riverside so we could get off at Newton and cheer runners near Mile 16 where PowerBar workers handed out thousands of bars to hungry runners as they ran by. When you stand in one place for a while, you make friends — like the ones who joined us in yelling Mil-ler, Mil-ler as our friend ran by (He never heard us!), and then we, in turn, cheered on their friends and family members. Anytime a runner motioned to the crowd for “more noise, ” we pumped up the volume just like we did when a family like the Hoyts moved their loved one in a push-rim wheelchair down the 26.2 miles. For us, the race became emotional: we were moved by determination, spirit, and physical prowess all rolled into one big effort to make it to the finish line. According to Boston Globe, 99% of runners finished, including one person who collapsed just short of the goal but was carried over the line by two runners willing to assist.
5. Boston was at its best — and maybe it always is!
Even though we’d been to Boston before, it was fun revisiting the history, the architecture, the food just as if we’d never been. We downloaded the app for Granary Burial Ground and searched for favorite sites while costumed tour guides told, in animated fashion, stories of famous people buried there. We looked through Fanueill Hall and Quincy Market with new eyes focused on Boston Strong souvenirs, local foods (chowdah!), and people from around the world snapping pictures of top touristy landmarks. But it was, of course, the Bostonians themselves that we’ll remember: always kind, always working, always determined to make this what it turned out to be: “a moment in time that weaves together a unique fabric of emotion, accomplishment and togetherness.” (From the BAA: Thank you, Boston)
Thanks, Jim Miller, for running this race and inviting your friends to see Boston through one determined runner’s eyes. It’s a race we’ll never forget.
If you go next year:
- Book accommodations early. Many hotels, rooms, and apartments (even through Airbnb, etc.) sold out months before.
- Plan your route using information and the map from the Boston Athletic Association‘s website: www.baa.org
- Download the Boston Athletic Association app, enter the bib number of the runner you want to follow (up to 10) and check often. You can keep up with progress easily!
- Know your mobility limitations. Many streets/sidewalks can be challenging, and long lines mean long waits.
- Ask for help, especially if you use public transportation. The Bostonians are quite willing to show you the best routes and how to buy tickets. Just ask. (They even understand Southern accents!)
For more information:
Boston Athletic Association: www.baa.org
Facebook, Boston Athletic Association: https://www.facebook.com/BostonAthleticAssociation
Facebook, Boston Marathon: https://www.facebook.com/TheBostonMarathon
Article cited above: “From the BAA: Thank you, Boston” Retrieved from http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/04/23/from-baa-thank-you-boston/59zUnlFxb4BhnnLXADiLoN/story.html