With the 114th Boston Marathon still fresh in my memory, I have to say that Iím already thinking about next year. Yes, my legs are killing me and Iím still pretty beat, but at the same time Iím running on adrenaline. Needless to say, the positive energy thatís pulsating through my body certainly outweighs, the physical discomfort Iím currently enduring.
So, what is it about the Boston Marathon that fuels such passion and why am I already thinking about next yearís race even though its 364 days away? While there are many reasons, the following are just a few:
The City of Boston
Simply stated, Boston is about the marathon. While many other cities have great marathons, they have to accommodate the city; the city does not necessarily accommodate it. For example, theyíre typically on a Sunday and run early in the day in order to avoid congestion.
Not only, is it on a Monday, thereís a holiday surrounding it Ė Patriots Day. Additionally, the start of the Red Sox game, 11am, is essentially timed to ensure that when the game is over the Red Sox faithful will pour out of Fenway into Kenmore Square to support the runners as they push through the final mile.
All of this helps to create a race day atmosphere, which in my opinion, is unrivaled anywhere.
The Crowds & Fans
From Hopkinton to Boston, there is never a dull moment. The energy along the course is just fantastic and certainly keeps me moving along. Whether itís seeing my family, the ladies at Wellesley College or a hearing a stranger calling out my number, Iíve never felt alone on the course.
Therefore, if you choose to return, you can always count on a very supportive and festive environment to carry you across the finish line.
Completing the Journey
I have to say that the road to Boston is no simple task, training and race day included. When it comes to training in the months leading up to race day, winter can brutal. This is especially true for those of us living in the Northeast, or anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon Line for that matter. Training in freezing weather, pushing through snow or dancing on ice, can certainly make you question what you are doing. As for race day, thoughts of the Newton Hills, especially Heartbreak, are always looming. As I was running I had to constantly remind myself to save my energy, as the hills can wipe you out if youíre not careful and donít plan accordingly.
However, once you cross the finish line and you reflect on what you did to get to this point, you realize that youíve overcome these challenges and realized your potential. Ultimately attaining what at one time seemed almost unattainable, turns running Boston from a dream into something that is very real, and this only fuels the fire to return.
If you were fortunate enough to qualify, this will surely bring you back, as you have essentially earned your spot in next yearís race. I canít begin to tell you the number of people I have met who say that their reason for returning to Boston was simply ďI qualifiedĒ. Within marathon circles being acknowledged as a ďBoston QualifierĒ is essentially an honor we bestow upon each other and if youíve earned it, you are almost obligated to return.
In short, becoming a ďqualifierĒ is a level that so many aspire to, so if you do achieve it or you already have and do so again, my guess is that this will be enough to bring you back.
I will say that that these are just four reasons and are by no means meant to represent all the reasons why so many people return year after year. On top of these are the many, many, many personal and inspiring stories that carry people throughout this journey. No matter what your reason for running was yesterday, one thing that cannot be denied is that running and completing the Boston Marathon is an incredibly inspiring experience.
So, if I had to really sum up why I keep returning back to Boston, itís for the very simple reason that after each race, I leave feeling incredibly inspiredÖabout myself, my fellow runners and my community.
With this being said, Iíd like to offer my heartfelt congratulations to everyone who ran in this yearís race and I hope to see many of you again next year, as I know for sure that "Iíll be back".
If you are already thinking about next year, be sure to check out my other post called Leveraging the "offseason", as this will provide some good guidance on where to go from here.
- Matt Pepin, Boston.com sports editor
- Steve Silva, Boston.com senior producer, two-time Boston Marathon sub-four hour runner.
- Ty Velde is a 15-time Boston qualifier who's completed 11 consecutive Boston Marathons and 23 marathons overall. Ty is now training for his 12th Boston run and will provide training tips for those who train solo and outside, no matter what temperature it is.
- Rich 'Shifter' Horgan is a 19-time Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team member who runs in honor of his father, who died of colon cancer. He will provide updates on local running events with a focus on the charitable organizations that provide Boston Marathon entries for their organization's fund raising purposes