Cold. Rain. Strong headwinds. Finishing nearly half-an-hour off his qualifying time.
Yet there was Rick Stone, soaking everything in at the end of his first Boston Marathon.
The Vernon runner crossed the finish line on Boylston Street – site of the 2013 bombings that killed three people and injured hundreds of others – in three hours and 37 minutes.
“The experience was almost surreal,” said Stone, 44, a professional sports scheduler, with the legendary Boston event being his 10th overall marathon.
“Such incredible crowds every step of the way. I must have high-fived a thousand people along the way. So many incredible runners of all ages, and some really inspirational runners.
“Not only the whole ‘Boston Strong’ theme, but people running for Martin Richard (eight-year-old 2013 bombing victim), blind runners (with guides), autistic runners (with guides), little people and people without legs running on those blades. Watching some of them running, and running fast, makes the cold, windy weather seem like a pretty minimal obstacle.”
Stone, a father of four, qualified for Boston by running a 3:07 marathon in St. George, Utah.
After attending a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, Stone was surprised in Boston by his wife, Morgan.
The two toured the historic city with stops at Harvard University and the pub used in the hit sitcom Cheers before Stone prepped to join a field of 27,165 for the 117th annual edition of the big race which would be run in 7C temperatures with 47-kilometres/hour headwinds.
“For me, the toughest part of the race was a hamstring cramp at about mile 21 which stopped me dead in my tracks for about three-to-four minutes to stretch and massage it,” said Stone.
“Part of it was the weather, part of it was a lack of fitness, and part of it was just wanting to enjoy my first Boston. Next year I can worry about time.”
After the race, Stone and Morgan ventured to a pub for a burger and a beer where he and other Boston Marathon competitors were embraced by bar patrons.
“This city treats runners like rock stars,” said Stone. “Walk into the bar and everyone stands and claps. How cool is that?”
Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa, the 2013 winner (before the bombing), won the men’s event this year in 2:0917.
Kenya’s Caroline Rotich won the women’s division in 2:24:55.