By Mike Savicki
We met for the first time twenty-four years ago when I was just a college kid. What brought me to her was nothing more than a macho roommate challenge that elevated into a 26.2-mile race. Looking back, I think I ran a little, I know I walked a lot and, to be completely honest, I’m not really sure who won the bet, me or my roommate.
That doesn’t matter now.
What I do know is that at age 21, I didn’t understand or appreciate her significance. I was younger, more naïve, and I simply thought running the marathon was a cool alternative to attending class. I never paused to think what came at the end.
The next year, something drove me to run again. Maybe it was because I knew graduation was on the horizon and it had become crystal clear to me that shortly after receiving my diploma I’d be leaving Boston to fly for the Navy. I wasn’t sure if or when I’d come back.
Embrace the now, I thought. To run a second time was a simple decision.
So when I turned on to Boylston Street that spring afternoon in 1990, I took the time to appreciate her significance. I savored the experience to the very last step. That’s when she introduced herself to me.
She was a thing of beauty. The flags of the world extended from her centerpoint like the outstretched arms of a welcoming mother. A huge grandstand full of spectators gave her a voice. And high above, a brightly painted blue and gold stage reached toward the sky like a circus tent. She had a personality, too.
“Come to me. Be strong. Just a few more steps. You’re almost there.”
For 116 years the Boston Marathon finish line has filled the souls of runners like me – college kids, local runners and elites – runners who have traveled from every corner of the world to feel her embrace.
She doesn’t play favorites or discriminate. Politics don’t matter to her either. I can’t think of too many other things like her. Can you?
And now, so many years later, she holds a special place in my heart. Since I left Boston in 1990, the finish line and I have reunited 16 more times. I have finished both on foot and in a wheelchair. We share a uniquely special bond.
On April 15, 2013, she was tested like never before. Her flags were knocked down. Her voice was silenced. The circus tent tore from its ropes.
Then something amazing happened. The world loaned her its voice. Our thoughts and prayers filled her soul. She breathed new life. And with a resolve never before seen, she rose from the blood-stained pavement and dried the tears of those who need it most.
She will come back strong. Boston strong. And we, all of us as runners now, will persevere.
This article was originally published in Currents Magazine in 2013.