What Boston Means To Me


Anyone who has made the 26 mile, 385 yard trek from the small Boston suburb of Hopkinton to Boylston Street will tell you that Boston is more than just a marathon. It is the marathon that every runner dreams to become a part of. Crossing that finish line allows for one of those rare moments in life when your dreams and reality merge into one. The three times I’ve run the race I always felt it was a privilege to be there. To be part of something with such a rich history, the wall of noise when you make the left hand turn off Hereford on to Boylston St is nothing like you have ever felt in your life and certainly, will never forget.

For me, there was always that poster hanging in my house growing up of my Dad running the race in 1979 that I always had my eye on. After finishing my college running career I wasn’t sure how much racing would be involved in my future but I knew one thing was certain, I would run Boston. It is one of the few institutions in our culture that needs no introduction. The simple phrase “I’m running Boston” is known to runners and non-runners alike. Everyone knows what it means. And this year, I’m going back for my fourth time because it is Patriots Day in Boston, and this year it might mean more than it ever has before.

I was lucky enough to have finished the race last year by the times the bombs went off. Along with many others, we were ushered from the streets of Boston back to our hotel following the attack. What always is a jubilant and celebratory atmosphere following the race was turned somber, sadness and anger filled the mind in a struggle to understand what was happening. Why now? Why Boston? Why an event celebrating a lifelong journey of fitness that was so innocent? The marathon will never be the same after last year and maybe that is a good thing. It will mean even more now to those who lace up their shoes and run it. To those who fill the streets to cheer, it will define what resilience looks like.

The city of Boston undoubtedly will rise as a result of this and produce an event this year that I will no doubt remember for the rest of my life. I know this because this was a city that was built by people who would not be intimidated, not be scared away. Boston is the city that rises up in the face of adversity. This is a city that embodies what America is all about. The third Monday in April in the city of Boston will define what resolve looks like this year. Runners will return to the streets and people will cheer louder than they ever have before.

On Monday, April 21st, the world’s eyes will turn to Boston once again. I will return to that course and cross that finish line wearing bib #617 – ironically enough, the area code for the city of Boston. A privilege in my eyes.

Greg Castro will run his fourth Boston Marathon this year and has completed 7 marathons in total. You can follow him on Instagram here: @yearofgregoryc

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