Grass Valley resident Michele Hughes was 17 minutes beyond the Boylston Street finish line at the 2013 Boston Marathon when the bombs went off. Her friend and running partner Linda Hegle was a mere six minutes ahead of the explosions. Neither were hurt, but after witnessing first-hand the tragedy of April 15, 2013 and its impact on the race, there was little doubt the women would return again this year to be a part of Boston Strong and the powerful comeback of one the most popular marathons in the U.S., if not the world.
“Waiting at LAX to board. Boston here we come. We have met several people who ran last year and are going back this year for the same reasons. The running community is amazing and we all want to support each other and the people of Boston. Can’t wait to get there,” Hughes wrote from Los Angeles International Airport Friday.
Saturday, the women ventured back to Boylston Street for the first time in a year for pre-race festivities.
“We got off the subway at Copley Square (Saturday) morning and both Linda and I had a pretty emotional time. It all rushes right back, and it was tough. As we approached the finish line we realized that we were not alone. Boston welcomes us with open arms,” Hughes said. “The Boston police offered to pose for us and their presence is a very comforting sight. When we race we know that we will have the strength of this town, these people, and 36,000 of our closest friends.”
Despite warm temperatures in Boston Monday and a few leg cramps, both Hughes and Hegle enjoyed their third Boston Marathon. Hughes crossed the finish line at 4 hours, 15 minutes and Hegle came in at 4 hours, 41 minutes.
“The crowds were amazing and the energy was electric. Boston is proud of its race and we helped them get it back today,” Hughes wrote. “‘We own the finish line’ was the saying of today. No mishaps only lots of cheers and tears. Linda and I both cried as we turned down Boylston St., today. It was a hard race but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. We have our great Boston memory back again. Love this town and its amazing people.”
About 32,000 runners took part in this year’s Boston Marathon. American Meb Keflezighi was the first to finish, coming in with a time of 2:08:37. Keflezighi is the first American to win the Boston Marathon since 1983.
Features Editor Brett Bentley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 530-477-4219.