Again, another year in Boston. This is a time of reflection of the years past. I look back at what we were doing in those previous years now that I have attended the marathon every year since 2011. Standing on the 19th floor I looked down at the street below that is now empty except for S.W.A.T. teams and military police. The feeling is eery as we are contained in our Marriott Hotel at Copley Square. The phone will not connect through to room service due to the long hold times of every other guest looking to do the same. The lobby is guarded by men with large guns and body armor. Unsure of how to feel in the midst of this time I hunker down in conversation with my co-workers as how to approach this night and what to do. This was the night of the Boston Marathon bombing. One I will never forget.
Each Boaton has its own story and I will proceed to tell them below.
2011: First Time
As Brian and I rolled up near Boylston street we parked the car out front of the Hynnes Convention Center. From there we figured out where to unload our car full of shoes & banners. This was the culmination of our ten day trip across the country visiting retail stores and meeting with potential sales reps. We had just been acquired by ICON Fitness and now had some money to promote our brand. Shoes had arrived in California two weeks prior and we then loaded up the car to seed product and launch our brand at the legendary Boston Marathon.
This was all new to both of us. We had no idea what we were dealing with. We had done two trade shows at this point, but no consumer end trade shows. We had a 10×10 space off to the side of the expo hall. After a week or so on the road it was nice to be out and sell some product to consumers. We spent three full days talking to people about this new shoe brand out of Utah and converted around 30 people to buying shoes from us. It was a great experience. Something that started a wave of success that continues to roll.
2012: Brian’s First Boston Double
The same race, a different expo venue. This year the expo was moved over to the south bay area and we were a year into this Altra thing. We now were represented with a larger footprint and pushed a lot of shoes. This was known as the “hot year” at Boston. The temperatures were in the high 80s so Brian, who had registered for the marathon, decided that with it being so hot one marathon was a not enough. Brian was going to start at the finish line and run his way to the start then turn around and run with his wave for a second go around. We chased him around the course to capture it on video and at the finish line. Pretty cool to see him accomplish this. Another element to the experience at Boston.
2013: The Bomb
Here is what I lead with. One of the most intense experiences of my life. I remember calling my wife and talking to her hoping that I would still see her the next day. Luckily our flights were not delayed and were still able to get out of the city. The experience of walking around the city that Monday night and the following Tuesday to see military police and S.W.A.T. personnel around the city was a bit eery.
Josh Bruni, Caitlin Anderson and I had been at the finish line bleachers to see the female winners cross the finish line. After hanging out there for a bit we decided to go rest in the hotel. Just before 3pm we wanted to go out and walk around on Newbury street. Everything was normal at the time until we attempted to cross Huntington right in front of the hotel. There was a slew of police cars and motorcycles that flew by including one who jumped off his bike to direct traffic. They were then followed by five or six ambulences. We were curious as to what was going on and shook it off as routine to get the finish line, until we entered the mall across the street and the intercom reported that there was criminal activity on Boylston. At this time we left the mall and I checked twitter to see what had happened. That is when I saw the images. Those images of bombing, destruction, bodies and more that I don’t believe I will ever forget. That is when we knew that a bomb had gone off at the finish line. We had heard nothing since we were left the hotel minutes after it had gone off. Fear and sadness then struck. I said a silent prayer for those affected. We bailed on our plan to go out and opted to go back into the hotel and wait things out.
Later that night after our failed attempts at getting room service we decided to venture outside the hotel. The security personnel said that we could leave and return as long as we had a room key. We took the chance and headed south towards downtown. We walked around the eerily empty Boston Commons and up into the North End. It was likely crossing some sort of portal when we passed the park. Not saying that the North End was bustling, but it did have the feel of any other Monday with people eating out and acting as if nothing had happened. We found a good restaurant and enjoyed a night out to get our minds off of the events of the day. We then made a stop over to Mike’s Pastry to drown our sorrows in Cannoli.
We returned as close to the hotel as we could via cab. They had about a mile circumference from the finish line barracaded and closed off. The streets were empty from there back to the hotel.
The next morning we left the heart of the city up to cambridge for breakfast and enjoyed some time away. As we drove up and around there we passed the barracaded streets and walkways that were guarded by military personnel. The hunt was on for the bomber and security throughout the city was very tight. We were able to cleanly and safely fly out of the city later that Tuesday. An experience that I will never forget occurred on that day in April.
2014: Boston Strong
Well, Boston is a resiliant town and runners are true fighters. Many wondered how people would react to the events of the previous year, but this year was special. Runners came together with the power and slogan of “Boston Strong” and “We Run Together”. There was a special purpose this year. The numbers were as high as they had ever been in participation. Many that didn’t get to finish the previous year came back to run again. Many that lost limbs or loved ones came back to talk about charities or causes that they were now fighting for. There was a very unique and special fealing this year. People wanted to show that runners can not be beat. It was great to be a part of it!
2015: The Legend Continues
Well, I am back here again to soak in the atmosphere and connect with great friends and acquantances. I love being a part of this running culture and community. They stick together. Trial and struggle just bring them closer together and they keep fighting. Such a joy to have been thrust into this and bring a brand that is loyal to the sport and equals the passion of each and every runner! Boston is forever a part of my life. I hope to keep coming back.