“My First Boston Marathon”: Social Welfare Student Linnea Koopmans Shares Her Experience

by Linnea Koopmans

Last Monday, I ran the Boston Marathon.  I had been looking forward to the race since I achieved a qualifying time at my last marathon in November of 2012. Having been a part of the running world for quite some time, I saw this marathon as both a landmark for my personal running accomplishments to date and also a beginning point for what I hope to be a more competitive stage of my distance running.

However, after the bombing at the 2013 Boston Marathon, I knew that as a participant in the marathon this year, I would be a part of something much larger than just a great race. As the date of the marathon approached, I was curious to see what the tone of the city would be. On April 15 – the year anniversary of the bombing – I listened to news coverage of the memorial and the stories of recovery from the past year. I was reminded of the process of healing that people affected have undergone since last April, both physically and psychologically. Despite all the wounds, the consistent message from past participants, Boston residents, and city officials focused on the importance of continuing the historical civic tradition of the Boston Marathon.

Throughout my experience of the marathon – from my arrival in the city to my post-run celebrations – it was evident that this year’s event was especially meaningful for everyone connected to annual race  The city seemed eager to both commemorate those affected by the bombing last year and to continue with some of its most endearing traditions that have come to define the race. The Wellesley College girls were still cheering on the runners with their “kiss me” signs, residents along the route were back out in their yards grilling and offering runners cold beer, and crowds of people still gathered at Heartbreak Hill to remind the runners that our legs could survive the final climb. And though the final few miles of the marathon were painful, I remember being in awe of the thousands of people lining the fence, cheering us all on to finish “Boston Strong.”

There is no doubt that April 15 will continue to be an important day of remembrance for both the city of Boston and the global running community. But I believe this year’s Boston Marathon, which included a participant field about 20% larger than past years and hundreds of thousands of spectators, was a reminder of the how beloved this historical race is and its power that enables everyone involved to feel they are a part of something much larger than themselves. As a runner, I will look forward to returning to Boston, and to the unique experience of the city’s marathon.



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