Thank you, Boston
I will never forget the moment, at about the 100-meter mark of the 117th Boston marathon, when I thought, with sun shiny clarity, “This is going to be the most amazing thing I ever do.” And I was right. Thanks to you.
The moment I stepped onto the platform at Back Bay Station, I could feel it. I describe it now as an embrace. You didn’t just make me feel welcome, you embraced me. I was a part of your tradition and was swept up in your pride. Light as a feather, a Boston marathon starter. What an honour to be your guest.
I tell people about that embrace and about how rightly proud you are of your beautiful town, your strong community, and your iconic run. I fell head over heels in love with you during those three days in April. I am giddy with joy just thinking about it.
I find it hard to explain to people how amazing you are. I am not the most poetic of storytellers, but it’s all so raw and moving that I hope some of your nature is portrayed. So I tell people about you with the oranges… About the thousands of high fives, my sore hand and my sore shoulder… And my sore cheeks because I did not stop smiling for 26 miles. (Well, maybe your hill made me cringe a little).
I tell them about the tissues and the wet paper towels and the sponges and the lollies and icy poles… And your beer and barbeques… And your deafening, up-lifting roar that pushed me to my PB (PR). I tell people about the sea of black, shiny leather, at the pub… About the kids, the families, the communities. I tell people about how sore your hands must have been from all your clapping, and how sore your throats must have been from all your cheering.
And I tell people about the 100’s or 1000’s of you who yelled out “Go Aussie Go!” or “Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi!” and about how I laughed when one of you said “There’s an Aussie…ARE YOU FAIR DINKUM???!!!” and how I laughed again every time one of you said “Go Great Britain!” and then your neighbour said, “That’s not Great Britain, it’s Australia.”
I have never felt so supported.
You carried me for those 26.2 miles. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
So by the time I turned onto Boylston Street, and you called out my name, drawing me across the line, I was totally addicted to you… Forever in love with Boston. As I crossed the line I shared a high five and a spontaneous hug with my brand new friend Jim. Then as I limped along and gathered my water and my blanket and bread and my medal, you congratulated me and you made me cry happy. I was overcome by your generosity and the uplifting power of your event to unite people in celebration. Thank you to the volunteers who hugged me and congratulated me in my post marathon delirium. Thank you for embracing me, Boston.
It is hard. Experiencing that elation. Experiencing that ultimate high and then a horrific tragedy back to back. It remains surreal for me; impossible to comprehend. My heart breaks for the victims and their families and friends, for the survivors who were injured and for the runners who worked so hard for so long and were not able to finish. I feel so sad for you, for the brilliant BAA, for your strong community, for Boston. But your humanity is so much more powerful than the terror. And I can see you have garnered strength from this experience. And that next year, when I see you again in April, that you will be stronger, prouder and even more united in your determination to deliver the world’s greatest marathon.
I was wrong when I thought to myself “this is going to be the most amazing thing I ever do.” Because the 118th Boston marathon is going to be the most amazing thing I ever do. I started training today.
Kew, Victoria, Australia
April 15, 2013
Age – 39
Bib # 12231