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The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

‘The beauty of Boston’: Thousands experience sunny 128th Boston Marathon

2024+Boston+Marathon%3A+Stories+racing+to+and+beyond+the+finish+line
Ashlyn Wang
The leading runners of the first wave run down Beacon Street in Brookline, Mass., toward the finish line on Monday, April 15, 2024. (Ashlyn Wang/Beacon Staff)

With sunny skies and temperatures that climbed to the mid-60s, marathon Monday looked a little different compared to last year’s cool and rainy weather.

While last year’s race conditions made it optimal for the athletes, Monday’s weather was perfect for spectators. The 128th year of the Boston Marathon brought thousands of ebullient spectators who rang their cowbells and shook their yellow and blue mini pompoms from Hopkinton to Boylston Street to cheer on athletes as they finished the arduous 26.2-mile race course.

As the high humidity and intense sun left runners experiencing dehydration from the weather conditions, medical support staff and volunteers were tasked with aiding marathon athletes facing complications throughout the day. In a Boston Globe article, race officials said 77 runners had been taken to area hospitals for treatment by 6 p.m. It wasn’t clear how many were treated for heat.

“The weather was a little warm today, so I didn’t do my best,” said Ryan Murgia from Washington, D.C. “But I’m satisfied that I didn’t stop running and kept going to the finish.”

On the elite side of the race, Ethiopia’s Sissy Lema, 33, took home the men’s crown. He crossed the stripe on Boylston in 2:06:17, a great leap from his 30th place in the 2019 marathon. Lema’s victory prevented Kenyan Evans Chebet from becoming the first man to win three consecutive Boston marathons in a row since 2008. 

Kenya’s Hellen Obiri ran away with back-to-back Boston titles, the first woman to do so since Catherine Ndereba in 2004-05. Obiri finished in 2:22:37—eight seconds faster than fellow Kenyan Sharon Lokedi, whom Obiri ran neck-and-neck with in the last two miles of the course. 

In the men’s wheelchair division, Marcel Hug of Switzerland rolled in a dominating performance, winning his seventh Boston Marathon men’s race title in course-record time. The Swiss “Silver Bullet,” known for his trademark silver helmet, smashed his course record by 1:33 despite having an early-race crash after he took too sharp of an angle around the iconic Firehouse Turn at mile 17 of the course in Newton. 

Great Britain’s Eden Rainbow-Cooper, 22, won the women’s wheelchair as the first-ever British woman to win Boston in either the open or wheelchair divisions. She finished in seventh place last year, with her 2024 victory marking her first major marathon win with a time of 1:35:11. 

In a tradition that dates back to the 1950s, Red Sox fans came to the marathon with full Red Sox attire following the morning match in Fenway Park, where the team lost 6-0 to the Cleveland Guardians. 

Former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was the Marathon’s grand marshal this year. When he arrived at the finish line, he was greeted by cheers from volunteers and spectators alike. 

Marathon Monday also aligned with One Boston Day, held on April 15 each year, which asks community members to spread acts of kindness to honor the 2013 Marathon bombing victims. 

Seven para divisions were included in this year’s marathon—an increase from the five divisions offered in 2023—in addition to the wheelchair division races won by Hug and Rainbow-Cooper, as part of the Boston Athletic Association’s efforts to expand inclusivity and participation by para-athletes. The newly established divisions included para-athletes competing with coordination impairments and intellectual impairments. The winners in each para division received $2,500.  

Dorothy Ferreta-Wallace, Hopkinton Marathon committee chair and B.A.A. organizing committee member, talked about the marathon’s efforts to promote inclusion and further participation of all groups of athletes.

“The difference is to build inclusion for everybody to participate and enjoy the start,” Ferreta-Wallace said. “There’s a whole new bleacher system up here, all accessible, wheelchair accessible, ADA accessible.”

The journey from Hopkinton to Boylston was not without its ups and downs.

Matt Homich ran his seventh marathon this year. A self-described avid runner, Homich returned to the Boston Marathon route after an eight-year hiatus due to COVID-19 and some bouts of sickness. He was finally able to make a comeback this year but said his performance didn’t turn out the way he planned. 

“[My] performance was underwhelming. This year, the stars aligned and I was able to put in a good training cycle, but today just didn’t go the way I wanted it to,” Homich said.

Nonetheless, the Portsmouth, New Hampshire, resident said there’s nothing like the Boston Marathon.

“[The overall experience] was awesome. I did my best to try and enjoy it. You never know if you’re going to have another Boston,” he said.

For many, the Boston Marathon embodies hard work and pride. 

Shannon Gaden wanted to set a personal record from her accomplished time in the California International Marathon (CIM) in 2022. In her first Boston Marathon, she did just that.

Since the Austin, Texas, native qualified for the CIM, Gaden had three bone injuries and stress fractures. After a disappointing year of hefty cross-training to qualify, Gaden made it to the marathon, one her dad ran years ago. 

“It was all worth it today. It’s a run through Boston,” Gaden said. “I was reading a book about the history of the Boston Marathon, and it made me appreciate everything—everyone who’s done this before me.”

“[My dad] gave me his sweatshirt of the 100th running of the Boston Marathon that I was wearing around town, and everyone was pointing it out,” Gaden continued. “Everyone just has so much love for this marathon.”

Ryan Dunning, 24, a New York native, ran the “legendary race” for the first time, saying “the course was evil.”

“The first half being downhill and then all the hills being on the back half is mean,” Dunning said. “But it was fun. The city brought a lot of energy.”

Dunning’s dream has always been to run Boston as he grew up watching his mother run marathons. Dunning said the goal is to run Boston with his mother in the future. But, for now, Dunning was looking forward to the post-race barbeque with his girlfriend and college friends.

Surrounded by family, Patterson Yazzie III hung a WWE belt proudly over his shoulder.

“I’m a big WWE fan,” Yazzie said. “They’re just coming off the biggest WrestleMania of the year—WrestleMania 40. It just means a lot to me because I stand out from the crowd. I’m someone that likes to put myself out there, someone that likes to separate myself from others just trying to show them that it’s okay to be yourself.”

Coming from Gallup, New Mexico, Yazzie, 23, ran the race to represent the Navajo Nation. Monday’s race was his third Boston Marathon in a row.

“I have the entire Navajo Nation that looked up to me,” Yazzie said. “I do it for them. I do it for myself. I do it for my family. That’s why I have this belt today because when someone has this belt in the WWE, it means that they’re the top guy. I consider myself a top guy.”

For others, running in Boston hits close to home.

Situated on the corner between Stuart Street and Trinity Plaza, Hiro Ono waited for his wife after crossing the finish line. 

It was in this spot where, in 2021, Ono, 34, proposed to his wife, Judy, after he ran his second Boston Marathon. 

“It was a long time coming,” the Pennsylvania resident said. “She has been with me through the whole process and preparing [for the marathon]. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to propose here.”

Now, Ono said, it is tradition for him and his wife to meet in the spot where their engagement began, and the love story continues. Monday’s race was Ono’s fourth Boston Marathon, and it’s what he looks forward to every year. 

“It all started here,” Ono said. 

The couple has a newborn baby on the way.

In Wellesley, a cacophony of echoing yells and chants was heard for over a mile by runners approaching the halfway point of the Boston Marathon. 

Marilyn Brison came down to Central Street to enjoy the energy and cheer on her niece Ashley Coberly, a runner from Washington State, in her first marathon run.

“I’m very excited for her. She’s trained and worked hard to do this to get here,” Brison said and explained she picked this spot because of its spirit. “I told her [I’d be on] the sidelines right after the girls got done screaming from Wellesley College … it’s awesome.”

Heartbreak Hill, the Newton hills between miles 20 and 21, are some of the toughest legs of the race. 

Madison McMahon cheered on her soon-to-be aunt Camille Ybanez, who is marrying her uncle in less than two weeks. Ybanez is a charity runner for Boston’s Children’s Hospital, where her nephew Aydin received life-saving care when he had COVID-19.

She and McMahon’s uncle, Chuck, met right before the pandemic and moved in together during COVID-19 quarantine. McMahon said this brought her closer to the family.

The two shared an emotional embrace as Ybanez reached the summit of Heartbreak Hill at mile 21.

“It was pure joy,” McMahon said. “It was nice to see her in her element. I was happy that I could give her some relief. My whole family is tracking her on the app back home, but I’m sure it was nice for her to see me.”

Despite the heat, athletes were full of energy after crossing the finish line, reuniting with proud loved ones, and taking in the celebratory, Boston pride feeling in the air.

“That’s the beauty of Boston. The course is always the same, but the experience is different every year,” Murgia said. “There’s nothing like crowd support here in Boston, which is why I keep coming back.”

Beacon staff DJ Mara, Emma Siebold, Sam Shipman, and Bryan Hecht contributed to this report.

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About the Contributors
Hannah Nguyen
Hannah Nguyen, Editor-in-Chief
Hannah Nguyen (she/her) is a junior journalism major from North Wales, Pennsylvania. Her work has appeared in publications like The Boston Globe, North Penn Now and AsAmNews. Outside of writing, she enjoys thrifting and painting her nails. (see: https://linktr.ee/hannahcnguyen)
Olivia LeDuc
Olivia LeDuc, News Editor
Olivia LeDuc (she/her) is a journalism student and assistant editor for the campus coverage of The Beacon’s news section. When she’s not reporting, you can find her crocheting or going on yet another long walk in the city.

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