Marathon: Raceday updates and photos

April, 20, 2014
Apr 20
8:30
PM ET
Starting around 7-7:30 a.m. in Hopkinton and until the last finishers cross the line in Boylston Street, our staff will give you Boston Marathon raceday updates and photos from a number of locations along the route. Check back early and often!

Start times:
Mobility impaired, 8:50 a.m.
Push-rim wheelchair, 9:17 a.m.
Handcycles, 9:22 a.m.
Elite women, 9:32 a.m.
Elite men and wave one, 10 a.m.
Wave two, 10:25 a.m.
Wave three, 11 a.m.
Wave four, 11:25 a.m.

1 Day: More Boston history in the making

April, 20, 2014
Apr 20
3:00
PM ET
Boston Marathon signAndrew Burton/Getty ImagesA sign on Boylston Street conveys the spirit surrounding this year's Boston Marathon.
In the 26 days leading up to the Boston Marathon on April 21, ESPNBoston.com will share inspiring stories, detail important logistics and go inside the planning for what promises to be an event like no other in the wake of last year's bombings. There is one day until the race.

BOSTON -- This is a unique American city.

Boston can be a wonderfully frustrating place to live. Both provincial and worldly, it was founded on a tiny peninsula then literally filled in as it grew (Back Bay isn’t just a catchy nickname).

For a city its size, Boston has always wielded a disproportionate influence on history. This was the seat of revolution, as you’ll learn just as soon as you visit. Paul Revere’s house, Faneuil Hall, the Old State House and the Bunker Hill Monument, these are the sights tourists come to see.

But while it always will be known for its role in the revolution, the Boston area also has a robust, if less renowned, recent history. The birthplace of John F. Kennedy, Massachusetts was one of the first states to institute sweeping health care reform and legalize gay marriage.

And until recently, it was home to those famously fatalistic fans whose love for their (historically) floundering sports teams knew no bounds, epitomized in those oft-uttered four words: “Wait 'til next year.”

The history of the Boston Marathon is no different. We remember New England’s own Bill Rodgers breaking the tape, Kathrine Switzer breaking the gender barrier in 1967 and opening up the marathon to generations of women to come, and Rosie Ruiz nearly pulling off her ruse in 1980.

But the world’s most famous road race has a more recent history. After two pressure-cooker bombs planted by the finish line on Boylston Street killed three and injured more than 260, the 117th running was halted prematurely.

[+] EnlargeJessica Boucher, Boston Marathon
AP Photo/Robert F. BukatyJessica Boucher, of Arlington, Va., places flowers at a memorial on the site of the first explosion.
In the year that has followed, the focus understandably has been on the unspeakable tragedy -- the lost lives of Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi, Martin Richard and Sean Collier and the lost limbs and changed lives of the many survivors -- and the chaos that followed in the city. The manhunt in Watertown capped a week seemingly crafted for Hollywood, not the 26.2 miles between Hopkinton and Copley Square. The weeks leading up to this year’s race have served as a kind of collective counseling session.

Like many close to the race, Rodgers, now 66, was moved by the attacks of April 15, 2013.

“After the bombing last year, I wanted to run Boston this year,” the four-time Boston winner and Hartford, Conn., native said Friday. “And I was in pretty good shape for an old-timer, 66 years old.”

He was running well, but in January he strained his hamstring. Just when he thought he had recovered enough to consider Boston in 2014, he had another setback. So he’ll have to settle for providing moral support on the 35th anniversary of his 1979 Boston win.

“Runners, you have to come back,” Rodgers said. “You have to come back when you get knocked down. That’s what happened there with the bombing -- and Boston, you can’t keep [the city] down. You can’t keep marathoners down.”

As a native New Englander and a former Boston winner herself, Joan Benoit Samuelson knows what Patriots Day means to the region.

“I think Patriots Day exudes strength, pride, perseverance and belief,” she said. “Everything that emanates from the Boston Marathon and our sport.”

The marathon legend, a two-time Boston winner and a U.S. Olympic gold medalist, said she expects the 118th running to reflect that marathon spirit.

“It will be bigger and stronger and more celebrated than any other Boston before,” Benoit Samuelson said. “At the same time, we’re all mindful of what happened last year and we’ll never forget that. So many of the survivors have been so inspiring in their quest to reclaim their lives.”

Benoit Samuelson said the marathon always will bear a mark from 2013, but an event that’s always demanded, and celebrated, the triumph of will over weakness will only be changed for the better.

“It will always be part of the fabric of the Boston Marathon,” she said, “but I think as the years pass there will be some good that comes from something terrible.”

On Monday, the world’s oldest annually run race will get a little older, the history becoming that much richer and the meaning of the day and the event ever fuller.

As the signs adorning streetlights up and down Boylston Street say, on Monday, “We run together.”

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.

Marathon Scarf Project bestowing gifts

April, 20, 2014
Apr 20
2:16
PM ET
Boston MarathonAP Photo/Robert F. BukatyMarathon runner Joe Warfield received one of the thousands of scarves being handed out in Boston.
In addition to race jackets, hats, shirts and every make and model of running shoe imaginable, many 2014 Boston Marathon runners are sporting a new accessory: handmade scarves.

It’s not that it’s unusually cold in Boston. More than warmth, the scarves provide comfort, unity and remembrance. And these priceless mementos are free.

In February, the Old South Knitters Club of the Old South Church on Boylston Street hatched the idea for the Marathon Scarf Project. The thought was to wrap runners in marathon blue and yellow scarves knitted with love and courage.

The group’s goal was to knit a few hundred, but the project went viral, and by race weekend they had more than 7,000 scarves from knitters across the country and around the world.

Some pieces are knitted, some are sewn and some have images. There are as many patterns as artists, but they are all crafted by hand and come with a tag including with the name of the artist and where they were made.

Since Friday, church volunteers laden with scarves have been standing in front of Old South Church, just past the finish line, and one by one bestowing racers with the scarf of their choice and a blessing.

Much as the project went viral with knitters, it has done the same with runners. People have offered to pay and have shown their race bibs for proof that they are running, but those doing the gifting take it on faith that the scarves are going to the right people.

Some recipients are silent and reverent when they receive their scarf, others give a hug of thanks, and many share tearful stories about the personal impact of the events of 2013.

All leave holding the unifying threads and knowing that Boston runs strong and runs together.
BOSTON -- In the moments before the horrific events at the finish line of last year's Boston Marathon, all was quiet inside the TD Garden.

Earlier in the day, the Boston Bruins held their normal game-day skate as they prepared to host the Ottawa Senators. In the afternoon, the players were home taking their normal game-day naps. The hallway outside the Bruins' locker room was dark. The arena was, too. All of the televisions in the press room were off.

Only a few miles away, at 2:49 p.m., two bombs went off on Boylston Street.

[+] EnlargeRene Rancourt
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesAt Boston's first major sporting event after the marathon bombings, Rene Rancourt started out singing the anthem solo but soon lowered his microphone as the crowd took over.
Within moments of the blasts, the news reached the Garden. The televisions in the press room were switched on and people stood around, watching in disbelief. The images were surreal.

Less than an hour later, Bruins players began to arrive for work. They had heard about the terrorist attacks and many of the players wondered if their game against the Senators would be postponed. Not knowing whether the game would be played, the Bruins tried to go about their normal pregame routines.

It didn't take long, however, for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the city of Boston, the NHL and the Bruins to decide to postpone the game. The players left the Garden and returned home to their families.

Bruins forward Brad Marchand remained at home all day because he was dealing with a concussion.

"I was taking a nap and my girlfriend came in and told me that some bombs went off. I really couldn't believe it," he said. "I really didn't know what to do. You go in shock and everything's a blur. Obviously, with how tragic things were and how upsetting, you feel helpless and you want to be able to do something. It was just a very, very sad moment."

Two days later, as the manhunt for the bombing suspects continued, the Bruins were the first pro team to play a game in the city.

It was an emotional pregame atmosphere as the Bruins and their fans honored those affected by the tragedy. Rene Rancourt sang a national anthem that he later said he would never forget. The Boston icon stood nervously on the ice, with the Boston Fire Color Guard by his side. As the 17,565 fans in attendance stood, watched and listened, Rancourt began to sing.

Only a few words into the national anthem, Rancourt motioned to the crowd to join in. The atmosphere was electric as Rancourt stepped aside and let the crowd sign the rest of the anthem in unison. The Bruins eventually lost to the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 in a shootout.

The Bruins subsequently had another game postponed on Friday, the day the city was shut down while the manhunt for the bombing suspects was developing. Current Bruins forward Jarome Iginla was a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins and remembers what it was like to be in the team hotel, watching the events unfold.

"It was very sad and a scary time," Iginla said. "It puts things into perspective when you're preparing for a game and it's cancelled, and it's obviously on the back burner because there are so many more important things than hockey and how fortunate we are to get to play it. It put things into perspective."

After one suspect was killed and the other captured late Friday night in Watertown, Mass., the decision was made to play the game on Saturday. During pregame warm-ups, players on both the Bruins and visiting Penguins wore "Boston Strong" T-shirts and hats that honored the state police as well as the Boston and Watertown police departments.

"We all recognize the fact that emotionally for a lot of the fans and people that enjoy sports, we can help a little bit with the healing," Bruins coach Claude Julien said recently. "We also understand there's not much you can do except lend your support and have your thoughts and prayers to the direct families. For the people around the whole situation, you just try to do the best you can with the ability you have. ... We represent the city as a hockey team and if you play well, it certainly helps the healing a little bit. But at the same time we know the importance of it all and that's what the guys think of the most."

A year later, the images remain fresh in the players' minds.

"I'm not from here, a lot of guys aren't and after everything that happened this city is like a big family now and you see how close everyone is," Marchand said. "Everywhere you go it seems someone's been touched by it. I think everyone has grown from everything that happened. It was very tragic but has brought everyone a lot closer.

"With how the Red Sox won last year, and we had a long run it seemed like everyone was able to lift each other up and find strength to carry on. It just shows why Boston is such an incredible city."

The Bruins held practice Tuesday morning at TD Garden as they prepare to host the Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Only a few miles away, the city remembered what happened exactly one year ago.

"It's got some good and it's got some bad, obviously," Julien said. "It's sad what happened, but for us, I look at how this city just came together and how everybody helped each other and did everything they could to help one another and that's what sticks in my mind."
In the 26 days leading up to the Boston Marathon on April 21, ESPNBoston.com will share inspiring stories, detail important logistics and go inside the planning for what promises to be an event like no other in the wake of last year's bombings. There are four days until the race.

She dodged tornadoes in Kansas and ran with a norovirus in West Virginia, but something told Gina Chupka to stop when she was nearing the finish line at a marathon in Holyoke, Mass., last spring. It would've been her 50th marathon in 50 states, a dizzying pursuit the chemist started three years ago, a journey of 100,000 miles by air and a few thousand more by foot.

[+] EnlargeGina Chupka
Courtesy of Gina ChupkaGina Chupka wasn't able to complete the 2013 Boston Marathon because of the bombings near the finish line.
The 2013 Boston Marathon was supposed to be Chupka's last state, but she was stopped at the final mile when the bombs went off. Finishing in Boston seemed fitting. Chupka, who lives in Golden, Colo., was born and raised in Westfield, Mass., and is a childhood fan of Boston sports. When she got back to her hotel room the day of the bombings, she immediately booked a hotel for the 2014 Boston Marathon, unsure whether she'd be invited back.

So three weeks later, she entered Holyoke, which boasts itself as the United States' 10th-oldest marathon. This would be No. 50 for Chupka. But when she got to Mile 16 or so, she decided that she had to wait for Boston. The news stunned her mom and cousins, who were waiting near the finish line and imploring her to cross. Chupka's mom, Kathy, had been through a lot already. She was waiting for her daughter at the finish line in Boston last year, and was very close to the second bomb. She was OK, but was eager to see her daughter finish her pursuit. Gina said, "Please don't be mad at me," as she saw her relatives near the finish line at Holyoke.

"I don't know ... It's hard to explain, but I just knew I couldn't cross the finish line," she said. "My mom didn't speak to me for probably three or four days. She didn't understand."

In Boston, Chupka will be running for the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, which provides financial support for cancer patients and their families. Joe and Jen Andruzzi will most likely be waiting for Chupka at the finish in Boston; her parents will not. They decided to take a cruise during this year's marathon.

That's OK with Chupka, who has run everywhere from Abilene, Kansas, to Omaha, Neb., to Maui. She plans to make a quilt out of all of her T-shirts from each state. And maybe she'll write a book.

The website 50statesmarathonclub.com says it has 3,420 members in the United States and 12 other countries. Chupka ran 24 of her marathons in one year, in 2012. But Boston has a very special place in her heart.

"The closer I get [to Boston], the more emotional I get," she said. "I was telling someone, 'I wonder if I'm going to be able to breathe or if my throat is going to close with emotion.'"