THE MARATHON: A year later, are we ready?
Race director: 'Most historic sporting event you’ll ever witness'
It is a question Dave McGillivray, the Boston Marathon race director, is prepared to answer – but it is an emotional one.
Are we ready?
Hopkinton Selectman Brian Herr, who is preparing to run his 25th consecutive Boston Marathon, asked that simple question during a selectmen’s meeting where they talked about race logistics.
Portable toilets? Check.
There are so many logistics that go into planning the Marathon, but the question stirred up a much deeper response. Are people mentally ready for the 118th Boston Marathon after last year’s bombings?
McGillivray, who has been the race director for 13 years, was in Hopkinton when he heard the news about last year’s explosions. He stood there in silence "not really believing what had happened 26 miles away," he told selectmen earlier this month.
He said the Marathon team has gone through three stages over the past year – recovery, conceptualization and execution.
"Here we are at the third stage – execution," he said. "We have to produce this event … we are (as) ready as we can be given the circumstances."
The Boston Athletic Association has worked extensively throughout the year with local, state and federal agencies to tighten up security for Monday’s race.
Northbridge resident Danielle Keane, whose husband Tom Keane is a third grade teacher at the Elmwood School in Hopkinton, ran last year unofficially as a bandit. She witnessed the horror on Boylston Street after being stopped at mile 25 and trying to find her husband and four young children, who ended up seeing the explosions.
"It would be a lie to say I am not nervous," she said. "Everyone who was there last year and witnessed it firsthand must still have that memory."
She said, however, it will be inspiring to be a part of the expanded field of runners this year. She is raising money for four causes – Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Mass. Eye and Ear, Hopkinton PTO and the Hopkinton Library expansion project.
"When I found Tom and the kids on Mass. Ave. I told myself I have to run it next year," she said.
Tom Keane, her husband, said he thinks people are ready for this year’s Marathon during an interview after the Elmwood School’s annual visit from Kenyan elite runners. He was near the finish line with their four kids and recalled the scene on Boylston Street as a "warzone."
"It is going to be difficult for many people," he said. "But the Marathon is such a staple of every Patriots’ Day."
The Keane family will still be cheering from the sidelines – just not at the finish line, they said.
Hopkinton resident Jeanette Corsini, a nurse at MetroWest Medical Center, said she is returning as a volunteer team captain for the medical tents at the finish line. This will be her 26th year doing so.
The medical teams sprang to action last year after the attacks and witnessed horrific scenes of the injured. Corsini said there was no doubt in her mind she would return.
"I knew when I left last year that I’d be back this year," she said. "I think the B.A.A. has done a lot over the last year to prepare the volunteers."
They’ve had monthly meetings since September for medical tent volunteers.
"I think everyone feels they are ready to return," Corsini said. "We may see people that might have to leave because of anxiety and we are prepared for that."
Many people have been gathering near the Town Common and start line to take pictures the last couple of days.
Enid Schantz-Hagelberg, of Pharr, Texas, was there on Thursday with family. She has run 30 marathons and six in Boston. Last year’s race was her personal record – three hours and 23 minutes.
"I had the best race of my life," she said, noting she finished before the explosions.
It was also going to be her last.
"I had to come back after what happened last year," Schantz-Hagelberg said. "It feels like we were violated. Like they took our race."
She said it’s necessary for everyone to run again.
"We need to do it," she said. "It is not about individual runners. It is all about us running it together."
McGillivray said athleticism and compassion will stand out at this year’s race.
"This is going to be the most historic sporting event you’ll ever witness in your life," he said.
Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 508-626-4338 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JPhelps_MW.