Sidelines

April 16, 2013

'1 Mile to Go' at the Boston Marathon

By Scott Martin smartin@centralmaine.com
Sports Editor

From my spot at Kenmore Square, a few strides before the "1 Mile to Go" marker, I saw so many emotions. There was joy, pain, excitement, regret, more pain and relief.

click image to enlarge

Onlookers watch as runners cross the “1 Mile To Go” marker shortly after 12 p.m. Monday at the Boston Marathon. Just before 3 p.m., two bombs exploded 12 seconds apart at the marathon finish line, killing three and injuring 176 others.

Staff photo by Scott Martin

Runners saw that sign and they checked their watch. "Am I still on pace for that PR?"

Runners saw that sign and slowed down to take a picture, capturing the moment they realize "I'm actually going to finish the Boston Marathon."

Runners saw that sign and threw a finger in the air or threw their hands toward the sky, asking the already screaming throng of fans to scream even louder.

Some runners slowed to work out cramps, wondering if they would last that final mile. There were a couple of runners dressed as hot dogs, others (including a few men) wearing tutus.

There were a few runners who were not runners at all, but military men and women in full fatigues, including combat boots and backpacks, walking the most famed 26.2 mile route in all of running.

Monday, Patriots Day, Marathon Monday, was supposed to be a celebration. A celebration of all those runners who felt so many different emotions when they saw that "1 Mile to Go" marker and raced their way toward Boylston Street and the finish line of the Boston Marathon. A celebration of all the hard work it takes to qualify or raise funds to get into this race.

Monday, we were supposed to celebrate the elite athletes, including hometown girl Shalane Flanagan of Marblehead, Mass., who finished fourth in her first Boston Marathon.

We were supposed to celebrate Joan Benoit Samuelson, who continues to inspire so many runners and raced her way to another record.

We were supposed to celebrate Maine runners Sheri Piers, Rob Gomez and Erica Jesseman, who weren't too far behind the elite runners.

We were supposed to celebrate the charity runners, who earned their spot in this race by raising money to help others.

We were supposed to celebrate the greatest road race of them all. The holy grail for anyone who puts on a pair of running shoes and decides to become a distance runner.

No one really feels like celebrating today.

I was nowhere near the finish line when Monday's tragic events took place. After spending the better part of the day as a fan in Kenmore Square at that "1 Mile to Go" marker, I started to walk that final mile, toward Boylston Street and the finish line. The crowd grew larger and larger as thousands of people tried to find a spot along the street to see the runners, to cheer on loved ones, to feel the energy.

I never made it to the finish line. I knew I had a train to catch to get back to Maine and was tired of fighting my way through the massive crowd (I've never been so thankful to be claustrophobic) so I decided to get a bite to eat and make my way home.

Taking first the Green Line, then the Red Line on the T to get to Cambridge, where I stayed for the weekend, I was in awe of all the runners, proudly sporting their race jackets, medals and space blankets. Some walked with a limp and a frown, others looked like they were ready to run another 26.2.

I had no idea what was unfolding on Boylston Street. The mood on those subway cars never changed. People were happy or tired or rushing to get somewhere. Plenty of people talked about the marathon, but no one had a clue what was happening.

I didn't find out until about 3:20, when I dug my phone out of my pocket and saw I had a message from my brother. "Just checking to make sure you are all right, I heard about some explosion at the finish line. Please give me a call."

(Continued on page 2)

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