On a beautiful spring day that matched the mood Monday, tens of thousands of runners and spectators celebrated the Boston Marathon’s bounce-back from last year’s tragedy. It was a testament to the strength of community spirit and the refusal to concede an inch to evil.
That attitude of optimism and defiance was best demonstrated by the many spectators injured a year ago in the twin bombings along Boylston Street who were back at the finish line Patriots Day. Patrick Downes and Jessica Zensky, newlyweds who each lost a leg while they were watching the finishers across, rode handcycles yesterday, crossing the finish line together. A huge crowd estimated at close to one million, twice the usual number, lined the 26.2-mile route from Hopkinton to Boston, cheering wildly in a celebration of spring, the historic road race and a triumph over terror.
A formal recognition of last year’s tragedy came at 2:49 p.m., the time the first bomb exploded last year, when a moment of silence was held on the course. The silence was followed, appropriately enough, by the most noise of the day, as spectators devoted full voice to the day’s triumph. Playing their part were 30-plus runners from Berkshire County along with friends, family members and race fans from the Berkshires who went east for a particularly memorable Patriots Day.
There is no denying that the Marathon, a traditionally relaxed, almost informal event, had changed in this its 118th year. At 6 a.m., National Guard soldiers began walking the course. About 3,500 local, state and federal law enforcement personell were present, and security cameras were ubiquitous. This was a product of last year’s bombings -- and of the world we live in. Those unfortunate realities did not damper the joy of Monday’s race, however, as runners and spectators succeeded in taking back the Boston Marathon from those who marred it.