It’s so nice to have you back where you belong.
After two years of being forced to run in the late summer (virtual in 2020) and early fall (2021) due to the pandemic, the Boston Marathon returned to its traditional third Monday in April (Patriots’ Day) date this past Monday.
About 28,000 of the world’s most prestigious 26.2-miler’s best friends showed up at the start line in suburban Hopkinton to celebrate the time-honored event.
It marked the 50th anniversary of the first official women’s field (just eight females in 1972) and, overall, there was joy in the air for the momentous occasion.
As always, Bucks County was well represented with a strong contingent of runners, including Joe Holton, 2:56.14; Timothy Bulat, 2:57:45; Justyna Wilson, 3:10.31; Pete Lederer, 3:11.22; Patrick Donadio, 3:12.10; Courtney Woodfield, 3:18.57; Pete Carideo, 3:28.19; Stephanie Young Rothrock, 3:37.05 and Janet Lewis, 3:46.33.
The April date is a big part of what makes Boston so special. There’s almost always a hint of spring in the air – flowers and trees are just beginning to bloom; the birds and the bees are out and about and the culmination of all that winter training brings almost a sense of relief.
Squeezing Boston into a tight fall schedule the past two years seemed to take away some of the crown jewel’s luster. New York City and Chicago already attract much of the marathon community’s attention in autumn, so it’s just better to have Boston back squarely by itself in the spring spotlight again.
Woodfield, a Newtown resident, ran the fall version of Boston back in October and said 2022 had a much different – and better — feel to it.
“Like a whole new experience,’’ said Woodfield, who ran a personal-best time for the marathon on Monday. “The athletes’ village, the greater number of runners, the wave starts with corrals and gun start made it all feel like a brand-new energized race today, more so than the rolling, spaced-out start of last fall.’’
No doubt the crowds lining the course were much bigger and louder than anything since the last “normal’’ race back in 2019.
“They were lining the entire course,’’ Woodfield noted. “So much positive energy from the crowds and the runners. I can’t wait to come back next year.’’
Added Donadio: “The crowds were energized every single mile of the race. The cheering, the hands reaching out from the sideline for a ‘go get it done slap’ and the variety of music engulfed the sea of runners all the way. This might have been my second Boston but it was the real deal this time around.’’
Lederer, a Langhorne resident, ran his consecutive Bostons streak to 19 and shook off a bothersome calf injury to run a time not too far off his usual more or less three-hours-or-so finish.
“The crowds were much bigger and louder than the October race,’’ he confirmed. “Between the good weather and having the race fall on Easter weekend I think contributed to so many people coming out to support the race.’’
Lederer pointed out adjustments were made in the athletes’ village to reduce the amount of waiting time prior to the race. Buses which usually left at 6 a.m. were moved up to 6:45 a.m., providing a little extra pre-race preparation time.
“The race was very much back to normal,’’ he said. “They went back to the standard start with corrals instead of the rolling start and it was fine.’’
Lewis also found this Boston more to her liking.
“I think in October, people were excited to just have the race and celebrate the 125th,’’ she said. “While there was a lot of excitement, it was still tempered by concerns about COVID. This year it just felt like everyone was just so happy to be back in April and have a great experience again.’’
With the possible exception of New York, there’s nothing quite like the crowd noise over the closing miles of Boston. A Monday morning with everyone’s cup filled with coffee can have that effect.
“I felt like they (spectators) were extra loud over the last five miles,’’ Lewis said. “After some rough winter training, we really lucked out with some great spring weather.’’
Bulat had run Boston last October and said the return to April offered benefits.
“It was great to run on Patriots’ Day,” he said. “I could feel the difference (from the previous fall) — a denser mass of runners at the start to the volume and depth of the crowds along the course. It was a great day to share with so many Bucks County Roadrunners Club members.”
Holton, a Boston first-timer, broke three hours for the first time by running a personal best and found this prestigious race to his liking.
“It was incredible,’’ he said. “Running under three hours made it extra special. The crowd support was overwhelming from start to finish. The city of Boston and the runners all seemed excited to have the race back on Patriots’ Day.’’
>Flyers Alumni coming up
Want to meet and greet some of your favorite former Flyers and run a race all at the same time?
Well then stop by Washington Crossing Historic Park this Saturday, 10 a.m., for the Flyers Alumni Stroll, Run, Walk 10K/5K/1-Miler.
Hall of Fame defenseman Mark Howe plans on running the 10K and several other fan favorites, including Bob “The Hound’’ Kelly, will be on hand. You can take a selfie with popular mascot Gritty and listen to NHL No. 1 national anthem singer Lauren Hart perform the “Star Spangled Banner.’’
“What’s nice about the course is our start-finish line is right near where (George) Washington’s troops slept,’’ said Flyers Alumni Association president Brad Marsh. “Our route is the route he took to cross the Delaware. It’s pretty cool.’’
Proceeds from the race will benefit the Philadelphia Warriors hockey team (composed of retired/disabled U.S. military personnel) and the Bucks County YMCA’s veterans wellness initiative.
To register, visit www.flyersalumni.net
Bookin’ for Lookin’ 5K, 9 a.m., Newtown. Contact www.bucks5kseries.com
Flyers Alumni Stroll, Run, Walk 10K/5K/1-Miler, 10 a.m., Washington Crossing Historic Park. Contact www.flyersalumni.net