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  • Writer's pictureJack Mullaney

When We Return to Boylston

On Tuesday, the BAA announced intentions to hold the 2021 Boston Marathon on Monday, October 11. Whether or not that comes to fruition is up for debate, but to me, the next time thousands of runners parade down Boylston will provide more reason than that alone to celebrate.

"If you want to win something, run 100 meters," the great Emil Zatopek once said, "If you want to experience something, run a marathon."

That's what the Boston Marathon is. It's an experience.

If being upset with an ultimate frisbee outcome got me started running, it was the prospect of making that infamous left turn onto Boylston Street that kept me running. I literally left my guts on the streets of Baton Rouge to qualify for Boston back in 2015.

Yes, literally.

But more on that in a later blog.

See, the Boston Marathon has everything. As the oldest annual marathon in the world, it has history. It has its heroes of the past, from seven-time winner Clarence DeMar to pioneering performers like Kathrine Switzer, all the way to contemporary legends like Meb and Des. Boston also has the landmarks, like Wellesley College, the Newton Firehouse, and Heartbreak Hill.

But what the Boston Marathon brings like no other event I've ever been a part of is a single, powerful feeling:

Unity.

The day I ran the race in 2016, it felt like whatever internal walls we build to avoid social interaction were knocked down. For 24 hours, it was completely acceptable to connect with anybody. Police officers, random spectators, bus drivers, aid station workers, and fellow runners were all just excited to share the moment. Even the employee at sweetgreen who was working the register covered my postrace meal simply because I ran the marathon (P.S. Thanks again, whoever you were).

That's why the next full scale Boston Marathon will be so special. Over the past year, the pandemic and political turmoil have eroded the unity felt every Patriot's Day on the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boylston.

But when we all can race again, we all can come together again.

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