Mourning the 2020 Boston Marathon That Never Was
First, the 2020 Boston Marathon was postponed due to COVID-19 and then, for the first time in the race's storied 124 years, it was canceled. Here are the moments we'll miss the most.
I moved to Boston in late March of 2018. My first Boston Marathon experience was a short two weeks later, on April 16, 2018—two days after spending my first birthday in the city, celebrating with new friends at new places. I spent race day in Hopkinton, and later at the finish line, where I watched Des Linden become the first American woman to win the race since 1985 despite torrential rain, blustery wind, and chilly temps. To say I was moved would be an understatement. Between spending days leading up to the race reporting on shoes, athlete’s stories, and race projections with my new Boston magazine family and experiencing the city light up on Patriot’s Day, I felt welcomed home. I felt one with a city that was little more than a stranger at the time.
It was a good first lesson in what the race is about: coming together, despite all our differences, as one. It’s about anxiously waiting for the gun to fire at the starting line of something hard, and finishing it together as one unit—as one team. And it’s about opening our city to outsiders (like I was two years ago) and making them family. While we won’t get to celebrate the Boston Marathon after its first official cancelation, it’s still serving all of us during these uncertain times. As we continue to grieve the immense losses we’re experiencing due to coronavirus, it’s OK to give yourself the space to mourn the loss of the marathon. It’s one of the city’s most shining moments each year, and losing it is meaningful even amongst other losses. While I’m giving myself space to mourn the loss of the event that catapulted my love for Boston into what it is today, I’m also making sure to give myself room to embrace hope. Because I’m certain that when we are allowed to gather again on Boylston Street, we’ll be stronger and more resilient, not just because we’ve come back from hard and terrible things before, but because we never really were separated in theory at all—maybe in distance, but not in heart.
Here are the moments—in no specific order—I’ll miss most about not getting to celebrate this year, and which I look forward to celebrating again on some future Marathon Monday:
The general buzz of the city the weekend leading up to the Marathon, including the festivities of One Boston Day
The festive atmosphere as everyone plays hooky for the day
Lining the streets of the course to cheer on the runners with creative signs and decorative garb
Feeling the anxious excitement of runners gathering in Hopkinton
Watching runners ascend (and conquer) Heartbreak Hill
Hearing the deafening cheers from Wellesley’s legendary scream tunnel
Getting all teary-eyed from the unmatched sportsmanship of runners on the course
Petting all the good boys, like Spencer, Boston’s favorite marathon dog
Catching up with running’s greatest athletes, like Kathrine Switzer, who became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon in 1967 as an officially registered competitor
Volunteers standing outside all day to make the day run (no pun intended) as smoothly as possible
Waiting to see what lovely spring weather New England bestows upon us
Seeing the first elite runner break the tape and hold up their country’s flag with uncontrollable emotions
Seeing the faces of all runners as they round Hereford Street and approach the finish line on Boylston
Drinking a Sam Adams 26.2 Brew at a local bar (if you can get in) after the excitement of the day has settled
Opening up our city (and our hearts) to runners across the world
Walking through Copley the next day and seeing remnants (like runners’ blankets and confetti) from the race still lingering on the streets, remembering that there’s always next year
And so much more. What will you miss most about the city’s best holiday?