On the morning of April 21, 2014, a group of 36,000 individuals from across the world gathered together in Hopkinton, Massachusetts to begin the 26.2 mile race to the city of Boston known as the Boston Marathon. The race this year was bigger than it had ever been before. Crowds of supporters brought incredible energy, with boisterous cheering and animated spirit along every step of the way. Signs that read “Boston Strong” covered the sides of the roads and the finish line on Boylston Street.
It’s hard to imagine that one year ago, at that same location on Boylston Street, two bombs exploded near the finish line, taking 3 lives and injuring 264.
Associate dean of admissions David Irwin ran the marathon last year to raise money for the Mass General Hospital. A year later, Irwin still remembers the feeling of being so close to the explosions. “After the bombing, it was just chaotic. No one really knew what was going on; we hadn’t heard the reports, and cell phone reception was off, so it was very scary.”
The tragic events of last year will remain in the hearts of Bostonians forever, but the city has found strength in the acts of courage, compassion, and support from their own community and beyond. “Tragedy can bring people together, and that’s what we saw with Boston this year. I feel like the city has definitely rallied and there’s a lot of unity in Boston right now,” Irwin said.
Annie Blasberg ’16, a resident of Beacon Hill—a mere one mile from the finish line on Boylston Street—has grown up watching the Boston Marathon every year on Patriot’s day. As a child, she looked forward to having the day off from school and going to her father’s office to watch and cheer on the runners.
Blasberg reflected, “the Boston Marathon is one of the biggest events that the city has, and it makes me sad to think that someone who lived in Boston could do such a thing.” She continued, “but looking at how the city has reacted, how everyone came together, and how people from all over the world really showed that they cared, just gives you hope, and shows that we’re a strong city.”
Deerfield alumnus Dan Renaud ’84, born in Western Massachusetts, ran in the 118th Boston Marathon this year. Renaud has always regarded Boston as a part of who he is and where he is from. At Deerfield, running was a big part of his four years, and his life was influenced greatly by cross-country coach and classics teacher Peter Brush.
Renaud decided to run the 2014 Boston Marathon 4 days after the bombing last year. “I had run it five times before, with my family typically waiting on Boylston Street for me to finish. The attack hit pretty close to home for me, and I knew I had to return in solidarity to the race, the city, and the running community,” he said.
Renaud described the atmosphere and crowds on race day as “incredible” and unlike any other year he had run. But for him, taking part in this year’s marathon was about being a part of something special. “The significance of the race has changed. This year, it was not about the personal accomplishment of qualifying for Boston or finishing Boston; it was about being part of the Boston Marathon. It was larger that one’s self.”
He concluded, “Those who suffered and those we lost were never far from the thoughts of the 36,000 who made their way from Hopkinton to Boston.”