The Boston Marathon is amazing. The history alone makes this marathon worth it, but the course, spectators and City of Boston make it an extraordinary event. Even weeks later, I’m still trying to process everything since I spent most of my time in Boston experiencing sensory overload. I loved the run, minus the cold rain and wind, but really my favorite parts about the Boston Marathon have nothing to do with the 26.2.
I loved getting to spend time with people I love. My running friends and our support crew made Boston for me. My mom came out to keep me company and I know it’s cliché to say the memories are priceless, but it’s so accurate. I feel bad she waited for me a long time in the cold at the finish line, but appreciate that she flew out there to spend time with me. It can be boring to run a marathon, let alone waiting for someone to finish one, and she had extra waiting time in Boston. Runners are bussed out to Hopkinton hours before the run even starts, so she was waiting for me for a good chunk of the day. Before and after the marathon, I loved seeing Boston with her, walking parts of the Freedom Trail and finding good food. The quality time with my mom and my running friends kept a smile on my face the whole trip. We were like kids in a candy store walking through the expo and, while I hated freezing at the Athletes Village before my wave started, it’s a good memory. We laughed about how ridiculously cold it was, bonding in the port-a-potty line all decked out in out our chic garbage bags. There was a whole lot of laughing and a lot of hugs, two of my favorite things.
I got to meet two of my idols in Boston. I have to confess that when I heard Sean Astin was going to run Boston, I went a little Fan Girl and discovered I wasn’t the only one. There were a couple of posters along the course saying, ‘GOONIES NEVER DIE.’ I didn’t get to spot Sean Astin, but I did get to chat with a pair that I’ve admired almost as long as my teenage celebrity crush. Anyone who has watched the Ironman coverage throughout the years is familiar with Rick and Dick Hoyt. Rick Hoyt was born a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy and his family fought the system to prove their child was more than a ‘vegetable.’ With help from technology, Rick was able to show doctors he was smart, had a sense of humor and had dreams. This guy sets goals most of us won’t even consider and his dad loves him enough to make them happen. Dick Hoyt retired from pushing his son in his race chair this year, but their legacy continues at the Boston Marathon. Dick was a 2015 Race Marshal and Rick was still out there on the course. A member of Team Hoyt stepped up to push him for the marathon, which is inspiring in itself. I think I would have been able to chat it up with Sean Astin, but I found myself practically speechless with the Hoyts. I thought I wanted to spot Sean Astin at the marathon, but ended up with something so much better. I will never forget meeting Rick and Dick Hoyt, one of my favorite Boston memories. I was still processing Boston when I headed to Central Oregon for the inaugural Bend Marathon. To go from a run with around 33,000 marathoners to one with close to 300 marathoners was a huge difference. Even with the 1,000 half marathon participants who ran with us for the first portion, there was a drastic difference in numbers. This meant shorter lines at the port-a-potties, I didn’t have to worry about getting trampled if I dropped something and went to grab it and, the best one, I didn’t have to get up hours before the marathon to just sit and wait in the cold. I showed up at 7 AM and was running at 7:30 AM.
Because the race directors are runners, the guys who put on the Bend Marathon (and Gorgeous Relay) pay attention to details. I was thrilled that there were lots of water stations scattered throughout the course and plenty of port-a-potties. Equally important, they had mile markers along the course, volunteers lined at turns and a very straight-forward, though challenging 26.2 miles. Boston was pretty, but Bend was gorgeous. We had views of Mt. Bachelor, the Deschutes River, a clear blue sky and sights that make Central Oregon a tourist destination. I was a little concerned with the altitude, but really didn’t feel it. What I did feel: the hills. The Bend Marathon is beautiful, but that beauty has a price; there are some decent climbs along the course and some pretty aggressive downhill too. It’s not completely paved and includes a fair amount on trails, but it was worth it, though, to be running alongside the Deschutes River, with clean, fresh air, watching for wildlife. Besides the gorgeous course, I loved the small town feel of this marathon. Race Director, Blair Hook’s daughter was celebrating her birthday by volunteering at the Bend Marathon with mom and dad. Runners helped her celebrate with a slightly off-key, at least from where I was standing, version of Happy Birthday. That wouldn’t happen at a bigger event like Boston. You also can’t be too creative with swag at bigger events, since it’s just not practical. A smaller race allows a little more flexibility. The medals passed out at the finish line weren’t just medals, but bottle openers too. Each medal came with a set of screws to make it easy to attach your new hardware to a wall. Once again, these guys are practical and pay attention to detail. A medal that won’t just sit in a drawer- I love that they are unique and practical.
Two different marathons, at each end of the spectrum and both of them amazing in their own way, it’s impossible to pick a favorite. I’m still processing the whole thing, even weeks later. There’s a reason so many people dream of going to the Boston Marathon. The course is one of a kind, the tradition and history make it special and the spectators cheer for the recreational runners like they are elite athletes for the entire 26.2 miles. They were out there in the rain passing out orange slices, licorice and one guy even brought some Pringles to share. It’s pretty amazing. I’m definitely more comfortable at a small town race like the Bend Marathon. I love that it’s a little more personal, the race directors listen to what people want and I could relax a little and get into the run, just taking in the views. I feel like I have some unfinished business in Boston so maybe someday I’ll make the trek east to run it again, but there’s no question I will run the Bend Marathon again. Right in our backyard, it was pretty, had fun participants and volunteers and included a challenging course. I didn’t notice a single snag for the inaugural year, which is pretty impressive. I’m excited to see it evolve into a destination event. It turns out it’s not that bad running two marathons in six days or maybe it’s not that bad when they are as perfect as Boston and Bend.