The Spirit of the Marathon is Thriving in Boston

A good dose of New England Hospitality….

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On my long-haul flight to the USA for the Boston Marathon, I was seated next to an American couple from Albany, NY. We started chatting (totally out of character for me, right?) and it turned out that their son lived in Boston. He had been a charity entrant in the 2013 Boston Marathon, and had been only a couple of kilometres from the finish when the bombings occurred. As we parted ways, we exchanged information. They were pleased to have a runner to follow in this years race, and I had every intention of looking their son up while I was there. Unfortunately, all the things I had to do before race day got in the way and I didn’t get the chance. On my last day in Boston, I checked my email, and found one from the son, with an invitation to meet up with him and his girlfriend that evening. I agreed.

We met at City Hall. We visited Faneuil hall (“The cradle of liberty”), Quincy market, and Union Oyster House, America’s oldest restaurant (est.1826). I tried Samuel Adams beer, ate a lobster roll and tried the clam chowder. We walked to the North end, and visited Mike’s pastry shop, where we got one of our own signature blue-and-white pastry boxes tied up with string. We ate our choc-dipped cannolis on a park bench just off Hanover street, opposite the old north church, by a statue of Paul Revere. I learned that the statue had donned a Boston Bruins ice hockey jersey during their last Stanley Cup campaign, and will probably again with the next. I also learned about Charlie Cars, grazing cows on Boston Common, and the children’s book ‘Make Way for Ducklings’, which explains the duck statues in Boston’s Public Garden.

Quincy Market
Quincy Market
New England Lobster Salad Roll
New England Lobster Salad Roll

Now, I wouldn’t usually meet up with a person I had never met in a city I didn’t know off the back of a chance meeting on a flight from Sydney to Los Angeles, but look at all the things I would have missed out on if I didn’t.
i know that there are always exceptions to the rule, but I think the dedication, determination, and strength of character it takes to run a marathon means that in general, we are all fundamentally good people. Friend or stranger, that’s the kind of person that I like to surround myself with.

Bill hopes to raise more money for his charity and run the Boston Marathon again in 2015.

On Monday evening after the race, I decided to leave my hostel and go for a walk…. my legs might feel better for it. As I walked out, I met a man who introduced himself as Ellis. He was from Penticton, BC Canada, and was surprised that I knew where that was. He was heading to Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, with his friend and his friend’s daughter. They were taking a cab, and Ellis asked if I would like to join them. As I had nowhere else to be, I accepted. Ellis and I walked the few blocks to their hotel. Here, I met Paul, from PEI, and his daughter Paulette, from Toronto. I saw the ball park and the World Series trophy, ate bad ball-park food, looked at the stadium’s ‘green monster’, and passed on the long lines at the House of Blues. I also learned that Fenway Park, at 102 years old, Was the oldest ball park in the USA. They told me it opened the same time the titanic sunk, so that stole all the headlines.

The 102-year old Fenway Park.
The 102-year old Fenway Park.

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Paul looks forward to completing his 10th Boston Marathon. Paulette will probably beat him to the finish line.

The day following the madness of Marathon Monday, routine and order were restored on the streets of Boston. It was business as usual, as residents returned to their jobs. As I strolled around the streets in my bright orange race jacket, I was stopped by at least 10 people in the space of just a few city blocks. They congratulated me, asked me if I had run yesterday, or one of numerous other questions. I felt like a rockstar. Around me, I observed other runners walking around the Boston streets with their medals hanging from their necks. At the airport as I left, orange jackets were everywhere, and I was proud to be wearing one.

From tragedy to triumph, the Spirit of the Marathon is certainly alive and well in Boston, and the city is feeding off the energy of the runners past and present. With so much to remember and celebrate, 2014 was certainly momentous year for the Boston Marathon, and If I only ever get one chance to run it, I am thankful for the year that I was given.

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