Sunday, April 24, 2016

Day 9.105: Exile #2's Sunday Column #104

Exile #2 writes...

Our marathon experience was a little different from Exile #1's. We were all awake to send him on his way at around 6 am, but were able to take our time getting breakfast. We'd been warned that security would be pretty strict, and that backpacks and large containers of liquid were discouraged, so we packed small water bottles and snacks into a clear plastic bag. I had thought we might wait to see Exile #1's virtual man start running before we set off, but in the end, we were too fidgety and left the hotel around 10:00. We were staying near the outermost stop on the northern Subway line. The 15 minute walk to the station was enough for us to realize that, yet again, Exile #1 was going to be running in the heat.

We had decided to stand on Hereford St, which is the last road before the runners turn onto Boylston St and see the finish line. We could hear the cheers as soon as we came out of the Subway. The wheelchair athletes were already coming through. We went through the bag check and managed to find a fairly good place to stand. The police presence was noticeable but not intrusive. Helicopters circled overhead.

We were fortunate to see the elite athletes come through. Then, we settled back to cheer wave after wave of runners. We attempted to follow Exile #1 using various apps but the network was either oversubscribed or, more likely, being blocked for security purposes. Fortunately, we had Exile #1's printed target times. I knew he had fallen slightly behind, so I encouraged the kids not to give up, when they worried we might have missed him.

There was a serious moment, when a runner collapsed in front of where we were standing, but the paramedics were by his side instantly and he was taken away to receive care.

We were delighted when we finally saw Exile #1's distinctive green hat bobbing up the street and, even better, his big smile. He stopped to give us a hug as, by then, he had relaxed about his time and was determined to enjoy every minute. Once he had gone by, we gave up our places to others who were still waiting to see their runners, and made the long loop round to meet up.

It goes without saying we are very proud of Exile #1, and thankful to the people of Boston, particularly the emergency services for looking after everyone, but I was also pretty proud of the young Exiles. Despite headaches, sore feet, and a lunchtime that was closer to dinner, they kept going valiantly.

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