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At The Boston Marathon, The Sweetest Finish Is Soured

Posted: 04/15/2013 5:13 pm

It's been called the sweetest left turn in the world, the corner of Hereford that leads to the final stretch of the Boston Marathon on Boylston Street.

For a few hours, once a year, Boylston becomes the hallowed ground for thousands of runners. Boston on this day doesn't become the name of the city. It's the name of the race, run on Patriot's Day, also known by those who line the 26.2 mile route as "Marathon Monday." Citizens and runners alike love the event. No question.

For runners, Boston is the everyday Everest, a sort of Olympics for those who toil the roads on 16-week training programs in those winter months. And to be in Boston during marathon weekend (I've run two in recent years) is to know how much runners and everyday citizens celebrate an event that reaffirms live.

So when I heard about bombs and Boston, it was a shock to the system. I know more than several runners down there and I've literally been in their shoes, struggling down that final straightaway. The finish of the Boston Marathon is the happiest place for a runner, where dreams are fulfilled.

boylston boston marathon
A photo I took of Boylston during the 2010 marathon.


Today, friends of mine emailed me, texted or called me, fearful that maybe I was there for the 2013 edition. I in turn was fearful for friends of mine who were down there -- more than 2,000 Canadians were signed up for the race. Most so far have checked in and for that I'm grateful.

A few years ago, in the lead up to the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., officials raised security for the October race, citing recent shootings.

Running can heal communities. Despite the backlash runners faced last year over the cancelled New York City Marathon, these big city events can lift spirits. The New York Marathon was run in the months after Sept, 11, 2001, as was the Marine Corps a month after 9/11.

I spoke to two running friends in Boston and emailed another. One, Samantha Sykes, a friend who I see on road races around Ontario, said that the bombs feel like an attack on the running community. A community that is helpful, friendly. Dave Emilio, another runner who I'll see on random Sundays in a Toronto park, told me he didn't know if he'd do another Boston. Big city marathons, like Boston, Chicago, New York, may never feel the same again -- not for awhile yet. And it's too early to come to conclusions about what this means for races, for the sport of running. That will come with time.

Last week, while accompanying a running buddy, we both described Boston as a runners' Christmas. And it's true, for the most part. Today, that finish line, one that I had gratefully had the pleasure of running twice in my career, was marred.

One thing all of us runners know. In times of stress, we lace them up, and we go out for a run. We'll be back on our feet and on the roads.

Kenny Yum is the managing editor of HuffPost Canada and a 22-time marathon runner. He blogs on running at A Whole Lot Of Soles.

boylston boston marathon
My self portrait at the Boston Marathon finish on Boylston.

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  • In this photo provided by The Daily Free Press and Kenshin Okubo, people react to an explosion at the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/The Daily Free Press, Kenshin Okubo) MANDATORY CREDIT

  • Medical workers aid injured people at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon following an explosion Monday, April 15, 2013 in Boston. Two bombs exploded near the finish line of the marathon on Monday, killing at least two people, injuring at least 22 others and sending authorities rushing to aid wounded spectators. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • Boston police clear an area following an explosion near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • Medical personnel work outside the medical tent in the aftermath of two blasts which exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

  • An unidentified Boston Marathon runner, center, is reunited with loved ones near Copley Square following an explosion in Boston Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

  • Medical workers aid an injured woman at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon following two explosions there, Monday, April 15, 2013 in Boston. Two bombs exploded near the finish of the Boston Marathon on Monday, killing at least two people, injuring at least 23 others and sending authorities rushing to aid wounded spectators. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • Workers aid injured people at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon following an explosion in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/The Boston Herald, Stuart Cahill) MANDATORY CREDIT

  • In this photo provided by The Daily Free Press and Kenshin Okubo, people react to an explosion at the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/The Daily Free Press, Kenshin Okubo) MANDATORY CREDIT

  • In this photo provided by The Daily Free Press and Kenshin Okubo, people react to an explosion at the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/The Daily Free Press, Kenshin Okubo) MANDATORY CREDIT

  • In this photo provided by The Daily Free Press and Kenshin Okubo, people assist an injured after an explosion at the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/The Daily Free Press, Kenshin Okubo) MANDATORY CREDIT

  • Medical workers aid an injured woman at the scene of a bomb blast near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon following an explosion in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, killing at least two people and injuring at scores of others (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • Medical workers aid injured people at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, killing at least two people and injuring dozens of others (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • Runners who were diverted from the race course walk on the Commonwealth Mall two blocks from the site of an explosion at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, killing at least two people and injuring at least 23 others. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

  • Una mujer llora afectada por una explosión mientras caminan cerca de la línea de meta de la Maratón de Boston el lunes 15 de abril de 2013. Dos bombas estallaron el lunes causando la muerte de dos personas y heridas a otras 50, informó la Policía de Boston. (AP Foto/Josh Reynolds)

  • An armed FBI agent passes a Boston police officer following an explosion at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds)

  • A firefighter tends to an injured man following an explosion near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

  • One of the blast sites on Boylston Street near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon is investigated by a person in a protective suit in the wake of two blasts in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

  • Firefighters tend to a man following an explosion at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon finish line Monday killing at least two people injuring dozens. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

  • In this photo provided by The Daily Free Press and Kenshin Okubo, people react to an explosion at the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/The Daily Free Press, Kenshin Okubo) MANDATORY CREDIT

  • Two people walk down the sidewalk as Boston police clear the area in Copley Square in the aftermath of two blasts which exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston Monday, April 15, 2013. The explosions Monday killed at least two people and injured dozens. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

  • This photo provided by Bruce Mendelsohn shows the scene after two explosions occurred during the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/ Bruce Mendelsohn) MANDATORY CREDIT

  • Medical workers respond following an explosion at the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/The Boston Globe, David L Ryan) MANDATORY CREDIT

  • Boston police direct runners who were diverted from the race course following an explosion at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

  • Medical workers aid injured people at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon following an explosion in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/The Boston Globe, David L Ryan) MANDATORY CREDIT

  • Medical workers aid injured people at the 2013 Boston Marathon following an explosion in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/The Boston Globe, David L Ryan) MANDATORY CREDIT

  • Blood from victims covers the sidewalk on Boylston Street, at the site of an explosion during the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. At the right foreground is a folding chair with the design of an American flag on the cover. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • Chris Darmody, right, holds his wife Sue in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Chris says he was waiting for Sue when an explosion detonated near his location at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The couple were later reunited after all runners were diverted from the course. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

  • Emergency responders comfort a woman on a stretcher who was injured in a bomb blast near the finish line of the Boston Marathon Monday, April 15, 2013 in Boston. Two bombs exploded in the packed streets near the finish line of the marathon on Monday, killing at least two people and injuring more than 80, authorities said. (AP Photo/Jeremy Pavia)

  • Emergency responders aid a woman on a stretcher who was injured in a bomb blast near the finish line of the Boston Marathon Monday, April 15, 2013 in Boston. Two bombs exploded in the packed streets near the finish line of the marathon on Monday, killing at least two people and injuring more than 80, authorities said. (AP Photo/Jeremy Pavia)

  • Emergency responders comfort a woman on a stretcher who was injured in a bomb blast near the finish line of the Boston Marathon Monday, April 15, 2013 in Boston. Two bombs exploded in the packed streets near the finish line of the marathon on Monday, killing at least two people and injuring more than 80, authorities said. (AP Photo/Jeremy Pavia)

  • Rescue personnel aid injured people near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon following explosions in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/The Boston Herald, Stuart Cahill)

  • Rescue personnel aid injured people near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon following explosions in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/The Boston Herald, Stuart Cahill)

  • Injured people and debris lie on the sidewalk near the Boston Marathon finish line following an explosion in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/MetroWest Daily News, Ken McGagh) MANDATORY CREDIT

  • As Boston Marathon runners walk by, SWAT team members stand guard near the finish line in Boston Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. ( (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

  • People react to an explosion at the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/The Boston Herald, Stuart Cahill) BOSTON GLOBE OUT; METRO BOSTON OUT; MAGS OUT;

  • Investigators shine flashlights at one of the blast sites on Boylston Street near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon in the wake of two blasts in Boston Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

  • In this image from video provided by Ryan Hoyme, the second explosion can be seen in the distance as smoke from the first explosion surrounds spectators exiting the stands during the Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Ryan Hoyme)

  • knocked down runner

    Bill Iffrig, 78, lies on the ground as police officers react to a second explosion at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Iffrig, of Lake Stevens, Wash., was running his third Boston Marathon and near the finish line when he was knocked down by one of two bomb blasts. (AP Photo/The Boston Globe, John Tlumacki)

  • A Boston Marathon runner leaves the course crying near Copley Square following an explosion at the finish line in Boston on Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

  • People react as an explosion goes off near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions went off at the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (AP Photo/The Boston Globe, David L Ryan) MANDATORY CREDIT

  • Multiple People Injured After Explosions Near Finish Line at Boston Marathon

    BOSTON, MA - APRIL 15: A runner embraces another woman on the marathon route near Kenmore Square after two bombs exploded during the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. Two people are confirmed dead and at least 23 injured after two explosions went off near the finish line to the marathon. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)

  • Multiple People Injured After Explosions Near Finish Line at Boston Marathon

    BOSTON, MA - APRIL 15: A runner reacts near Kenmore Square after two bombs exploded during the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. Two people are confirmed dead and at least 23 injured after two explosions went off near the finish line to the marathon. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)

  • Multiple People Injured After Explosions Near Finish Line at Boston Marathon

    BOSTON, MA - APRIL 15: A runner embraces another woman near Kenmore Square after two bombs exploded during the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. Two people are confirmed dead and at least 23 injured after two explosions went off near the finish line to the marathon. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)

  • Multiple People Injured After Explosions Near Finish Line at Boston Marathon

    BOSTON, MA - APRIL 15: A woman is loaded into an ambulance after he was injured by one of two bombs exploded during the 117th Boston Marathon near Copley Square on April 15, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. Two people are confirmed dead and at least 23 injured after two explosions went off near the finish line to the marathon. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

  • Multiple People Injured After Explosions Near Finish Line at Boston Marathon

    BOSTON, MA - APRIL 15: A woman is loaded into an ambulance after he was injured by one of two bombs exploded during the 117th Boston Marathon near Copley Square on April 15, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. Two people are confirmed dead and at least 23 injured after two explosions went off near the finish line to the marathon. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

  • Multiple People Injured After Explosions Near Finish Line at Boston Marathon

    BOSTON, MA - APRIL 15: A woman, with blood on fingers, is loaded into an ambulance after being injured after two bombs exploded on the marathon route on April 15, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. Two people are confirmed dead and at least 23 injured after two explosions went off near the finish line to the marathon. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

  • Multiple People Injured After Explosions Near Finish Line at Boston Marathon

    BOSTON, MA - APRIL 15: A woman looks at the blood on her hands as she is loaded into an ambulance after being injured after two bombs exploded on the marathon route on April 15, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. Two people are confirmed dead and at least 23 injured after two explosions went off near the finish line to the marathon. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

  • Multiple People Injured After Explosions Near Finish Line at Boston Marathon

    BOSTON, MA - APRIL 15: Two blood stained feet of a man hang outside an ambulance outside a medical tent located near the finish of the 117th Boston Marathon after two bombs exploded on the marathon route on April 15, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. Two people are confirmed dead and at least 23 injured after two explosions went off near the finish line to the marathon. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

  • Boston police ask people to leave the area in Copley Plaza in the aftermath of two blasts which exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

  • Paramédicos asisten a un hombre herido después de una explosión en Boston el Lunes 15 de Abril de 2013. Dos bombas estallaron cerca de la línea de meta del maratón de Boston, causaron dos muertos y 22 heridos, dijeron la policía y los organizadores de la competición. (AP Foto/The Boston Globe, David L. Ryan)

  • Uniformed Division Secret Service officers stand watch on the sidewalk in front of the White House looking north from Pennsylvania Avenue during heightened security following the explosions in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013 in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

 

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