From Heartbreak Hill to Heartbreak

My family and I have a spot from which we like to watch the Boston Marathon.

It’s just at the top of a tiny hill, that by the time the runners climb it, 26 miles in, must feel like a mountain. The barely perceptible rise in Hereford Street seems insignificant to me as a spectator, but from the sidewalk, packed ten or twenty people deep, it’s clear how hard the runners are struggling.

But when they reach the top of the streetcandles memorial, just outside the Hynes Convention Center, just a couple blocks from the sites of Monday’s blasts, the runners turn the corner and see, arching over Boylston Street, the banner marking the finish line. At that moment, for many their very first glimpse of a Boston Marathon finish line ever, for many the first glimpse after serval tries at completing the race, anything is possible.

Some runners burst into tears. Some literally stop and turn cartwheels. Some collapse in relief. Some who seemed on the brink of collapse find a new burst of speed. Some cry out in celebration. Some pull a loved one from the crowd and run the last few blocks together.

Whatever happens, the reactions of those who have suffered and struggled and wanted to give up a million times, turning and seeing their goal for the first time, always move me to tears of hope and pride and love and joy.

And they always, always will.

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