The deadly bombings near the finish line of last month’s Boston Marathon stopped runners in their tracks, many just moments away from the triumphant, redemptive end to months of grueling training and fund-raising.
On this dreary, drizzly morning, thousands of runners and their supporters came out to finish what they started, jogging the final mile from Kenmore Square to the finish line and reclaiming the long-imagined moment they were denied.
“It’s a great way to show the strength of Boston and the camaraderie in our city,” said Liza Marie Felici, a 28-year-old Dover resident who was stopped at mile 25.5 during the marathon. “There’s a sense of closure.... Yes, it’s a month later, but it’s happening.”
The event, called OneRun and bearing the slogan “we’ll get our finish,” was organized by a coalition of Boston running clubs and businesses. Word about the race spread quickly on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks; about 3,000 participated, organizers said.
The event drew a heavy police presence, with officers lining the sidewalk of Boylston Street and patrol cars guarding each intersection along the route. No security incidents or medical emergencies were reported, according to officials at the finish line.
Wild cheers greeted the runners as they made their way down Boylston Street past the site of the twin bombings. Employees and patrons of shops and restaurants in the area came outside to clap and yell encouragement, some wiping away tears.
A brief pre-run ceremony on Beacon Street included motivational speeches by City Councilor Mike Ross and Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino, along with patriotic music from the children’s choir of St. Ann Parish in Dorchester, the church attended by 8-year-old bombing victim Martin Richard’s family.
A team of MIT campus police officers among the runners wore shirts honoring Sean Collier, the officer who was allegedly shot and killed by the bombing suspects in Cambridge.
“It’s our chance to just run and show support to the victims,” said 32-year-old patrolman Karl Martinsen. “It’s a special event. It will be a short run, but emotional.”
Martinsen, who was a close friend of Collier, said today’s run was another step in an ongoing process of healing.
“It’s been hard,” he said. “Fortunately, the department and all the guys we work with, we’re like a family. We’ve been there for each other, and today is an extension of that.”