Countdown to Boston: 5 Days!
Last year, 5 weeks after the Boston Marathon I finished the "other" finish line on May 26th on the yard of bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Here is my story:
As a symbolic gesture, Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials invited non-finishers from Indiana and surrounding states to cross the racetrack’s iconic finish line. About 35 runners, including me, took them up on the offer to run the half-mile stretch from Turn 4 to the Yard of Bricks.
I was one of the runners caught in the bottleneck a half mile from the Boston Marathon finish line. One week before the Indy 500, I received an email from the Boston Athletic Association inviting me to “Finish Your Race Across the World’s Most Famous Finish Line – The Yard of Bricks on Sunday morning May 26, on national television before the start of the 97th Running of the Indianapolis 500.”
This was a good consolation to my non-finish 25.8 mile Boston marathon. On race day morning my family and I arrived early to meet up with the other Boston Marathon runners who came to finish their race. We were briefed on what was in store for us.
We were treated like celebrities. About an hour before the start of the race, we would walk the “red carpet” before the “real” celebrities arrived. We posed for photos for local and national television stations as well as assorted newspaper and magazine companies.
We were then loaded up in vans to transport us to Turn 4 to begin our run. Because this is live television the main concern was getting the runners to run the half mile within 3 1/2 - 4 minutes. This translated to a 6:10-8:00 minute mile (or 7:00 average).
This became my big concern as I was nursing an sore hamstring and hadn’t been running the miles like I used to. I asked the other runners if we were really going to have to run 7 minute miles. For live TV, yes, we had to come across the finish line just before the announcement of “Start Your Engines.” We got the cue to start running. They gave two of the faster runners up front American flags. This made for great photos.
We started off in a tight pack and I was in the front half. The spectators were on their feet and I could hear the cheers and chills went down my spine. I was trying to look good on TV and run with the pack but within a few minutes I was falling back. When we came to pit lane, I saw all the pit crews lined up to give us “high-fives” and cheer us on. The other side of the pit lane was flanked by firefighters and police officers.
The front runners broke the tape as they crossed together with hands held high. The roar of the crowd was unbelievable. It is regrettable that I was prevented from crossing the finish line in Boston, but finishing across the yard of bricks brought tears to my eyes. This was truly a moment to cherish and commemorate the tragic event of April 15, 2013. r
Starting out from Turn 4
At the finish
Getting high 5's from the pit crew
On the Yard of Bricks