When Cape Region runners headed up to Massachusetts this week for the annual Boston Marathon, they didn't quite know what to expect. What they saw on race day, though, was unity and enthusiasm on the anniversary of the one of the city's most terrible tragedies.
“The vibe in Boston was just incredible,” said Linda Schwartz-Chi of Rehoboth Beach, who had just finished the race last year when two bombs went off, killing three and injuring an estimated 264 people.
In the days following, Bostonians and the country embraced the slogan Boston Strong. The movement united the people of Boston, who vowed to rebuild and once again host the historic race.
“Some random woman stopped us to say thank you, thanks for coming to Boston,” Schwartz-Chi said. “The entire city was just that way. They're happy everyone came back.”
An estimated 36,000 people, 63 from Delaware, ran the race April 21. Many 2013 runners returned to show support, while an estimated 1 million spectators did the same from the sidelines. One of those was Massachusetts native and current Lewes resident Jack Vassalotti, who was waiting just beyond the finish line when Schwartz-Chi completed the course.
“She had a big smile on her face,” he said.
He and Schwartz-Chi had met in the same spot following the 2013 race. Just minutes later, the first explosion rattled Boylston Street. This year, Vassalotti noticed beefed up security near the finish line, with checkpoints, more police presence and security cameras scattered throughout the area.
Linda's husband, Brandt, has run more than 30 marathons and several ironman triathlons, but he said this year's Boston Marathon was in a class of its own. Prior to the start, he said, a group of Blackhawk helicopters flew overhead, and he saw snipers on the rooftops.
“The atmosphere was completely different,” he said. “I thought it would be nerve-racking, but it wasn't. It was surreal how cool it was.”
Vassalotti said the inviting and embracing vibe really laid any fears to rest.
“There was a good, positive energy amongst everyone I saw,” he said. “One thing I noticed across the whole area was a lot of signs up saying 'Boston Strong.' There was a lot of support throughout the whole Boston metropolitan area for the rebirth from something bad to something new.”
Local runners' times include Brandt Chi of Rehoboth Beach in 3:10:15, Bobby Spath of Milford in 3:12:19; Bruce Clayton of Rehoboth Beach in 3:51:07; and Linda Schwartz-Chi of Rehoboth Beach in 3:59:15.