Sarah Lord scratched the Boston Marathon off her bucket list on Monday, and the 35-year-old cross country coach from Senior High came away awed by the experience.
“It was amazing,” said Lord, one of 71 runners from Montana participating in the Marathon. “This is by far one of the most supportive and welcoming places that I’ve ever been. You’re out there running the marathon and people are saying things like, ‘Thank you so much for coming back to run in our city.’”
A year earlier, the finish line in Boston looked like a war zone after two bombs exploded, killing three people and injuring hundreds more. But Lord said Monday’s race was met with a sense of healing.
The city, Lord said, was determined to turn the page from last year’s nightmare and return the 26.2-mile event to its rightful place among the most prestigious road races in the world.
“You saw lots of survivor t-shirts,” Lord said. “You saw lots of amputees running that were injured last year. A team was running for Martin (Richard), the young boy who was killed.
“Security was so present, but at the same time it was pleasant. It didn’t feel like you were in a military zone. The guards would high-five you as you went by, but they were every few feet. There was a lot of security but it was still a very lively and enjoyable atmosphere.”
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Mark Handelman of Missoula had the fastest time among Montana runners. Handelman, 27, finished in 147th place with a time of 2 hours, 33 minutes and 53 seconds.
Scott Sneddon was the fastest among those from Billings. The 52-year-old had a time of 2:46:10. Emily Bruyere, 37, had the fastest time for Billings women at 3:35:17. Lord finished in 3:44:55.
There was a further Billings connection: Meb Keflezighi, last summer’s Big Sky State Games torch bearer, became the first American to win the marathon in 31 years.
“I wore a t-shirt that had Montana on the front of it,” Lord said. “I heard ‘Go Montana’ at least 5,000 times. It was really, truly a supportive race.
“I met some of the other Montana runners. I saw a crew from Helena and a crew from Missoula. There were quite a few Montanans out there today.
“There was a reverence to the day, but it wasn’t so emotional that you couldn’t get through it. People were really out there in force to run. There were 36,000 runners, and everybody was there with the attitude of, ‘I’m going to cross that finish line.’ That’s what today was about.”