I remember it like it was yesterday, my parents were taking me to see this running race thing I kept hearing about. When we arrived my parents complained about how far they needed to park to find an actual parking space. Then we walked for what seemed like forever all at a pace that seemed a bit excessive, at the time, to make sure we got to see "Him". When we arrive it wasn't at some huge fancy arena but just another street. I thought my parents were tapped. Why did they drag me all this way to stand at some random street corner to watch a parade. Then it happened.
A Boston motorcycle policemen went by lights flashing, sirens blaring up a storm, the place became electric. Then a few more and then I got to see Him that everyone was talking about. Him being Bill Rogers. The man who owned the sport of marathons for a period of 5 years. He won both the Boston and NY City marathons 4 times. 2 of those Bostons he finished so quickly he broke the American record. I was in awe. As a child, Bill Rogers was my first real Sports Hero. As he ran by me that day he appeared to barely touch the ground.
For the next few hours I spent my time screaming in support of all the runners who past by. From that point forward both the Boston Marathon and running became an integral part of my life. Every Patriots Day I would turn on the tv and watch the marathon start to finish. To some it was just a bunch of guys running but to me it became a way of life. I dreamed of one day crossing the line no matter what it took. Sadly that dream was taken away when I developed a knee injury during my years running high school track. I was told that yes I could train and probably finish Boston but that I would probably ruin my knee and need surgery following the race. My love for Boston never waned and I continued to run only with a different goal in life. A few years later I got into multi-sports and joined a local team and back to Boston I went.
Come to find out one of the team's sponsors was going to be at the Boston Marathon Expo and needed volunteers to man their booth. I jumped at the chance to be there, and wasn't disappointed. I got free parking, a free pass into the expo, and of course got to see it all during a break. That's when I saw Bill Rogers, a bit more frail but no less a hero of mine. My chance to rub elbows with another Boston great would happen some years later.
At my first teaching job I kept hearing and seeing a familiar Boston Marathon name. I thought it was someone else but no, I was working with Geoff Smith winner of both the 84' and 85' Boston Marathons. In 1986 Boston began handing out prize money which sadly was the year after Geoff won his last Boston.
I remember talking with him about running and both of our injuries. He spoke with me as an equal and shared that he was over joyed to be able to run following one of his surgeries. My love for running was cemented when I heard him describe what it felt like to run a 10min mile for the first time in too long.
Boston will forever be a part of my life. For some that shared love of Boston put them in a spot where some lunatic felt it best to destroy instead of support this great event and those running it. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has been affected by this horrible act. To all the Bill's and Geoff's and everyone who has ever crossed the line at Boston, I salute you, I support you and I pray that someday needless violence will someday be a thing of the past.