by Martha Degrazia
As most of my colleague runners know, I like the longer distances and from 1994 have logged over 80 marathons. I have seen many cites (and runners) in the US as well as all over the world. Recently I commented that the Boston Marathon is about the best you can experience and a tribute to the directors, volunteers, Boston area people and of course the runners. Perhaps it is because they have done this for 123 years, but I think not. It is a class act from start to finish and what differentiates this race to me is that it is still all about the runners.
I have run Boston about 15 times and walk away thinking I will be back, each time. Every year I receive the follow-up survey, and honestly, despite my job, which is to define more clever, more efficient, more ‘lean’ ways to improve the world, I cannot think of a single suggestion to add to this survey.
Yes the expo is crowded, but that is because everyone wants to be there! But you can locate anything you are looking for, everyone is super -knowledgeable and willing to help and packet pickup just always works as expected. Every runner is made to feel special which is what you see over the entire event. Bus to the start village (I go from Hopkinton corporate park) just always works. Ralph can park; say good-bye to us without the usual race frenzy. Volunteers get it… he is leaving and just wants to spend a few minutes watching us board the buses.
The thousands of volunteers, all in their matching jackets, are continually friendly and seem happy to be there… even as I get slower and closer to the middle of the pack!
The finish line has to be the best in the world! The volunteers and spectators are still there cheering us on after 3+ hours! And the first thing they all say is “ Welcome back to Boston!” Contrast this to other major marathons where you are instructed to – move on, clear the finish line, exit the area.
Each year I think this is my last Boston, but how? Considering all that has evolved with the event, and the complications by our very dangerous and unpredictable world – this remains a class act and an example of how we can be inclusive, exceptional and successful for all runners, everywhere! Next time you are there or watching ESPN – just look at the small details and the precision that makes this a world-class marathon and event for all runners and spectators!
[Ed. Note: When Martha has run the Boston Marathon in the past two decades, she has always placed in the top ten of her age group.]