It is the spectators who make the Boston Marathon what it is

For the most part, my story of the 2013 Boston Marathon is very similar to many who have run it before me. From the first time I considered trying to qualify, and thinking “Oh, that won’t be that hard,” to realizing I may never be able to qualify, to the grueling training it took to become fast enough. But, Boston is the granddaddy of marathons! It is the one all marathoners strive for. Therefore, when I finally qualified, it was a huge relief!!

Once my entry to the marathon was accepted, I decided I would run it as a celebration, not as a race. I wasn’t concerned about effort and pace, but just wanted to soak it all in.

Part of that celebration was the expo, which was AMAZING!! My wife (a faithful half marathoner, tempted to run a full some day), and I could not get enough of the expo. It was the best one we’d ever been to. Yes, we tend to geek out on that kind of thing. Who wouldn’t get excited about seeing Kara Goucher, Shalane Flanagan, & Meb Keflezighi in person? Oh, and I chatted with Adam Goucher and did a shake out run with Bart Yasso. But then Marathon Monday arrived.

We geek out on the Expo
Coffee with Bart Yasso after morning run
I qualified at Utah’s Big Cottonwood Marathon

Prior to the start was nothing particularly special. I sat on a bus for the ride to the start line, then sat in a parking lot until it was time to go to my corral. As I headed that way, I saw a sign advertising the marathon I had used to qualify for Boston, the Big Cottonwood Marathon in Utah. I felt proud. I got to the start line in time to see the women begin. One of them, Michelle Lowry, and her mother, my wife and I had met on T the prior day. They were so cool, so I naturally was pulling for her, in spite of that fact that Kara Goucher was running it…

After they headed off, I walked to my corral to stretch. It was a beautiful day! Soon, the race started for us as well. I had studied the elevation charts, so knew what to expect, downhill at the start and uphill at the end. While that wasn’t wrong, there was more uphill at the beginning than I expected, and more downhill at the end. However, the course was basically just as described, with the Wellesley girls competing for kisses, to the beer from the Boston College frats, to the blessed view of the Citgo sign at Fenway. What I didn’t expect, even though I had heard of them, were the neighborhoods. People camped outside their houses with cut-up fruit, ice pops, water, and various other kinds of food. I knew the race would have volunteers stationed to give out nutrition, but I’ve never been in a race where there were so many spectators giving this stuff out. Even their cute little kids were in on the action. While the Wellesley girls and all are special to the Boston Marathon, it is the spectators who make the Boston Marathon what it is.

As I mentioned, I wasn’t racing this one, but just wanted to soak it in. In a way, I’m glad I did, because I tend to miss out on details when I’m racing.

However, in hindsight, I’m a bit embarrassed that the spectators and residents gave so much to us runners, and the effort I gave back was mediocre.

Thankfully, even though my effort was lacking, I finished and had left the area before the bombs went off. I say “thankfully” more so because the friends we rode with after the race, their one year old child, and my wife had been standing near where the bombs went off. If we had decided to stay and cheer on a friend of ours, things might have turned out differently for us.

Considering all of this, I am excited to be running the Boston Marathon again in 2014. I owe the spectators something I can only repay them while running the marathon: my best effort! That includes my training leading up to the marathon to make sure I am in tip-top shape. Those spectators are the best I’ve ever experienced in a race, and those bombs exploded on them. They didn’t deserve it, but I will give them all the effort I have to tell them how much they truly do mean to the runners. I hope they come out again, to accept the small token of appreciation I and many other runners will quietly offer them on April 21, 2014. Thank you, Boston!!

Matthew Amick
Ringgold, Georgia
April 15, 2013
Age – 35
Bib # 5694