So that's it, the marathon has come and gone. Now I can look back and reflect on it in totality. What makes Boston different from all of the other races out there? Why do people keep coming back for it year after year? Like any long running event the element of tradition certainly comes into play. It definitely doesn't hurt being the oldest marathon in the world. As the only marathon with a qualifying requirement to get in the sheer prestige factor is also quite evident. Obviously that is a huge draw for serious runners, but is that enough to get ordinary people, even non-runners, to spend so much time and effort to participate in what could be a very painful experience. Obviously the ease of the course isn't the big incentive, because that course is just plain hard.
Now that I have done it I am stating to get a better idea of what drives people to run Boston again and again. Naturally I was originally drawn by the glamor and prestige of the event, and let's face it, growing up near Boston it just gets in your blood. Everything I knew about the marathon has started to change. For the first year it wasn't about the elite runners and the battle for first place; I didn't even find out who won until around 3PM.
I think the one thing that keeps bringing people back to Boston is just that, the people. They were everywhere; cheering, partying, having fun. From the kids handing out oranges, the messages in chalk on the street encouraging the runners, all of the people willing to give up their day to volunteer or just cheer us on. I've never seen anything quite like it. At one point I literally ran through the middle of a party that had spilled over into the street.
The only regret from the whole day is that I wish I wasn't so tired in the last part of the race so that I could more thoroughly enjoy the overwhelming crowds from Cleveland Circle to the finish. I've never experienced anything quite like it, it was amazing. Turning onto Boylston street was absolutely mind-blowing; thousands of people lined the street to see us, normal, every-day runners cross the finish line. Now I understand, this isn't just a race, this is an event. One that I hope to be a part of next year.