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St. James Plaindealer - St. James, MN
  • Experiences From the Boston Marathon

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  • The 118th annual Boston Marathon, arguably the most prestiges marathon in the United States, was held this year on April 21, roughly one year after a terrorist  attack targeted the race in 2013.  In mid April, St. James resident Craig Mueller traveled to Boston, Massachusetts to run in the event.  Accompanied by his wife Marilyn, the two went on a four-day adventure that became much more than just a run.
    Craig has been running his whole life, but began to run full marathons only two years ago with his son, Brady.  Competing in marathons in the twin cities and around the state, Craig has qualified for the Boston Marathon after every event he’s participated in.  After the attacks at last years marathon, he decided to train.   
    “When it happened last year, it effected everyone who runs, and the spectators who support them,” said Craig.
    To prepare, Craig kept a training log to record his progress.  He would run into town or around the lake near his house with his dog.  The harsh winter made it difficult to run consistently and there were times where he was forced to ron  on negative eight degree mornings.  Three weeks before the marathon, he was ready to go.  
    The marathon had 36,000 numbered participants, representing all 50 states and at least 80 different countries.  Ninety-nine percent of those who started the marathon, crossed the finish line.
    Marilyn said that it was like a small town atmosphere.  Runners love talking about running with other runners and had an instant bond.  They met people from Ohio, Canada and Iowa, and heard different languages like Spanish and French.   Everyone there was like them, a skinny runner like Craig with a spectator like Marilyn.   
    “It’s the most amazing thing,” said Marilyn.  “The city of Boston opened their arms and accepted everyone, They couldn’t have been more welcoming.”
    “The most emotional thing of the whole weekend was church on Sunday morning,” said Craig.   
    On Easter Sunday, one day before the marathon, the Muellers attended morning service at Old South Church, a building that has been standing since 1669.  The  service started with a “Blessing of the Athletes,” which featured a bagpipe and small symphony, prayers and the distribution of handmade blue and yellow scarfs to all the runners in attendance.  Blue and yellow are the official colors or the marathon.  
    “There wasn’t a dry eye in the church. After,  everywhere you looked you would see a group of runners wearing the scarfs and you would know they went to that church,” said Marilyn.  
    Page 2 of 3 - The city didn’t dwell on last year during the weekend, but instead celebrated that they got through it together and all who supported them. This year’s focus was to move foward.  The city library had an art exhibit with notes and banners from last year.  Small memorials represented where the two bombs went off, but neither were the centerpieces of the event by any means.  Almost everything was focused on this year.  
    On Monday morning, preparations  for the race began at the Boston commons, where runners get on a bus to the starting line in Hopkinton.  There, the runners are divided into four “waves” of around 9,000 people based on their qualifying time.  
    “The organization was just unbelievable. There were people as far as you can see, for 26 miles the spectators filled the route.  The support from them is second to none. The security does a great job but was never in the way.  The medical staff was the best.”  
    The first wave started the run at 10 a.m.  Eleven miles into the run, Craig and the other runners reached a three block span near Wellesley College, an all  girls school, known as the “scream tunnel.”  Deafening shrieks and cheers created by the female students and spectators lining the track give runners a burst of energy.  
    Because the run takes place on Patriots Day each year, the college and other local schools are closed down and many residents have work off and spend they day showing their support through the track.  
    “The whole town shuts down for the marathon.  Everyone is out there,” said Marilyn.
    The marathon continues past historic Fenway Park, where the Boston Red Sox play a morning game.  Fans can walk out of Fenway at any time during the game and be right on the race course.  Players also acknowledge the runners after the game.    
    Craig said that he was able to maintain his target pace for the first 20 miles.
    “My run was going almost perfectly, and then you get into Newton and that third hill.”
    The infamous “heartbreak hill” is located at the back end of the marathon.  Once Craig began to climb the last obstacle, he stopped careing  about his time and took it all in, the city, the crowd and the moment in history. The last leg of the run is downhill and most runners take there time.  
    Once at Cleveland Circle, mile 24, the city’s iconic Citgo sign appears, symbolizing the finish line.  It never seeeds to gets and closer, as Craig inched his way there.  Craig crossed the finish line at mile 27 with a time of 3:32:40, only a few minutes off his original goal.  
    Page 3 of 3 - Following the run, the Muellers spent the remainder of their trip exploring the city.  The couple followed the historic Freedom Trail, visited old buildings and experienced the east coast for the first time.  They also went to the Boston Public Garden, where the popular children’s book “Make Way For Ducklings” is based.
     “The weekend was so much fuller than we thought it would be,” said Craig.  
    Craig explained that he wants to go back for the marathon’s 120th anniversary, and hopes he can run it with his son, who didn’t qualify this year despite having a time that would normally warrant entry.  
     “They say when you run your first marathon, you either love it or you don’t,” said Craig. “If you love it, you’ll be looking for that perfect run the rest of your life.  I haven’t run my perfect one yet.  I guess I have to keep going.”  

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