Editor's note: News On 6 anchor Chera Kimiko is part of a large group of Tulsans who will be running in the Boston Marathon on Monday. Chera co-anchors the News On 6 at 9 p.m. newscast on Tulsa CW.
Boston Blog No. 2 Saturday, April 19, 2014
Today I began my journey to Bean Town for the 118th Boston Marathon. I'm trying to imagine what my eyes will see or what my heart will feel when I step off the plane. I hear people from all over the world whispering about how this marathon is, well, different. Let's be honest, most of the time when people run a marathon, they do it for themselves to set a personal best or to qualify for the Super Bowl of running—the Boston Marathon. Yes, some run for a charity or for a person they know, but for the most part, people run a marathon to accomplish something significant—something only 1 percent of the population will ever do: run 26.2 miles. But not this time; This time it really is different.
Three days after the bombings on April 18, President Obama said, "And this time next year on the third Monday in April, the world will return to this great American city to run harder than ever and to cheer even louder for the 118th Boston Marathon. Bet on it."
And bet on it we did. This year, though, while we all came to run, it really has little to do with running, but rather solidarity. This is a city on its knees, bowing, praying, thanking, praising, and rejoicing that we are the strongest country in the world. We are family in a beautiful display of love.
There is not a restaurant or storefront that does not sport the phrase Boston Strong. There is not a person I have spoken to who gives a damn about how fast they are going to run. What's important, instead, is the significance of why they are running Boston. For some it's about support, for others it's about appreciation. For Maryellyn Latcom, it's about showing her kids how you never quit, that you always get back up no matter how badly it hurts and finish what you started.
Maryellyn is the tiniest woman you can imagine. Barley 5-feet tall, and maybe 100 pounds, she is one spunky Bostonian. Last year she was 100 yards from the finish line when the second bomb went off. Her kids, by the grace of God, had just left the finish line to get something to eat. Maryellyn believes, had they stayed to watch her finish, it would have been a much different story.
"Can you imagine? Can you imagine losing a child? I certainly can't. I'm lucky. They are lucky. That's why I'm running this year—to be the backbone for someone who is desperately relying on me and everyone else to be strong and show them that we care and they are not alone."
With that support comes security. There are 1,500 Boston police officers, 3,500 total uniform police officers, 450 state police, 600 members of the National Guard, 3,500 security personnel, and dozens of bomb sniffing dogs as well as undercover officers that are blending in with the crowd. This year, bags are checked and re-checked. Come race day, no purses, strollers, backpacks, coolers, glass containers or cans, large blankets, costumes, or suitcases are allowed.
It's crazy to comprehend, but this year, athletes will be representing every state in the nation as well as more than 90 countries. The amount of spectators is expected to double… with more than one million people lining the course to watch all the runners.
The positive vibe throughout the city is palpable. This 118th Boston Marathon is bigger and better than ever, and nothing can ruin the spirit of the race.