Less than a day after the image of him clearing off the Boston Marathon finish line during this week's blizzard took social media by storm, the mystery man known previously as "The Boston Shoveler" has been identified.
Local bartender Chris Laudani was outed by his employer, Back Bay Social Club in Boston, on Twitter as the man in the photo.
"The marathon means a lot to me," Laudani said Wednesday. "I'm a big fan of the marathon, and I run the marathon every year. ... It's a really special place for me. I love the Boston Marathon finish line and everything it represents. And it didn't deserve to be covered by snow, so I shoveled it off."
— Only In Boston (@OnlyInBOS) January 28, 2015
As Boston was getting buried in nearly three feet of snow Tuesday and the city was in shutdown mode, Laudani took to Boylston Street with his shovel and cleared off the finish line.
That stripe of paint across Boylston Street holds special meaning in the region after three people were killed in bombings near the finish line during the 2013 race.
"I think it's cool that a ton of people have gotten behind the idea and support the idea that the finish line isn't just a strip of paint in the road, that it means so much more to us as a community of Boston and of runners," Laudani said.
He also said he didn't want to be called a hero for his actions.
"I saw the word 'hero' being tossed around and that I don't like," he told Boston Magazine. "I'm no hero, I'm just a nut who loves the marathon. The real heroes are the people who were out there clearing the streets and sidewalks, the [Boston Police Department], and the [Boston Fire Department] who risk their lives every day to keep people safe."
The photo that went viral was taken and tweeted by a man at a nearby hotel who was working in his room and spotted Laudani on the street during the storm.
"I thought it was a powerful image when I looked at it," Philip Hillman told Today.com. "I've been a resident of Massachusetts my whole life. For us, that finish line has become sacred ground. When I looked out there and saw that, I thought, 'How cool is that?' I love my city. It just was like, Boston is strong, and even the storm couldn't stop us."
Hillman said of his tweet, "I had no idea it would affect people the way it has, and I'm happy it has touched as many people as it did."
— KFP48 (@KFP48) January 29, 2015
Meb Keflezighi, the 2014 Boston Marathon champion, offered his thanks for Laudani's good deed.
"I was actually scheduled to be in Boston on Tuesday and Wednesday, until my flights and events got canceled," Keflezighi told ESPN Endurance reporter Christopher Chavez. "I'd like to thank Chris Laudani and any others that helped for shoveling the Boston Marathon finish line. That photo says a thousand words about the significance of that finish line to Bostonians, runners and fans worldwide. I'm eager and excited to come back to race Boston in April and be a part of the most prestigious marathon in the world."
According to ABC News, Laudani was an official entrant in the 2011 Marathon and ran unofficially as a "bandit" in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Boston Marathon sponsor Adidas has offered Laudani entry to the 2015 race, a company official told ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell.
The Boston Police Department even got involved in the search for "The Boston Shoveler," tweeting to its 305,000 followers that it was looking to solve the mystery of who shoveled the finish line.
— Boston Police Dept. (@bostonpolice) January 28, 2015
According to reporters, there might have been a second person who helped shovel, as well.
Boston Athletic Association executive director Tom Grilk said he appreciated the act and said it showed how deep of a connection local citizens have with the Marathon.
"We saw profound acts of courage and kindness following the bombings which occurred in the City of Boston in April 2013 near the Boston Marathon finish line. Since that time, we have continually witnessed an outpouring of support for this great event and the City, demonstrating just how unique and special this race really is and all for which it stands," Grilk said in a statement. "For someone to brave the winter blizzard to clear our finish line for us is yet another statement as to what our event means not only to runners but also to Americans. We, at the Boston Athletic Association are the organizers and are responsible for the management of the Boston Marathon, but an act like we see depicted here proves that -- in Boston -- everyone owns the Marathon."