Locals race to compete, remember

The final stretch down Boylston Street in downtown Boston has long signified the end to the 26.2-mile Boston Marathon.

For some, it was an attempt to race against the clock – trying for a new personal best time.

For others, it was the sheer exhilaration of finishing.

Last year, bombs that exploded near the finish line ripped the fabric of this American tradition – bombs that wreaked havoc and killed three people.

Beyond that, the act of terrorism injured hundreds of others – including severing limbs from spectators.

Forward to Monday’s Patriots Day in Boston and the running of this year’s marathon.

Look at the 35,671 entrants – the second highest since the 100th running in 1996.

The race starts in the New England town of Hopkinton and goes through other Boston suburbs before hitting the downtown area.

Every part of the race was a wall of sound for the runners.

“You couldn’t even think. It was that loud,” said Cortland resident David Deeter, who ran in his first Boston Marathon.

Cortland resident Carrie Albert, who had run at Boston before, said she wasn’t happy with her time. However, the feeling of being in Boston overrode her running disappointment.

“I was hurting, but I was happy to be there,” Albert said. “It was really thrilling to cross that line – to be a part of it, to see the events last year were not going to stop this marathon and weren’t going to keep people away from it.”

Vienna’s Terry McCluskey, who has been in Boston more than a dozen times, said security was dramatically increased this year.

Bomb-sniffing dogs were quite visible. Police presence was doubled. And barricades were visible around the course.

If you weren’t running, you weren’t to be on the course.

“They wanted to make sure it was a very safe and secure area,” McCluskey said.

Boston wanted to make sure this year’s marathon went on without a hitch.

“You could really tell to this city how big this marathon is,” Deeter said. “It is a big deal, you can really tell that. In the different cities you run through, you could tell it was a big deal to them. They take a lot of pride in it.”

The pride showed when the runners got closer to the finish.

“You would think some fans would back away, but there were more fans down to the last three or four miles,” McCluskey said. “The finish line was packed. There was nobody afraid to go to the finish line. In fact, there were more fans at finish line than ever. They were so boisterous and enthusiastic. They were shouting Boston Strong. They were all excited about having this race again this year.

“It was a very heart-pounding, lump-in-the-throat kind of feeling.”

No matter how the runners felt, they knew running this marathon was more important than any aches or pains they felt.

“I was thinking in the back of my mind, even though I was in pain, it’s nothing compared to people who got hurt last year, who lost limbs and will never be able to run on two legs,” Albert said. “I was thinking I’m sure my pain is nothing compared to what they went through.

“I kind of used that to help me.”

jvargo@tribtoday.com