Boston Marathon now stronger than ever


Photo courtesy of Gallagher.

Huy Huynh, Multimedia Editor

April 15 marked the 10-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing, a tragedy where three people lost their lives and 280 more were injured. For this year’s historic marathon, a record 30,000 runners competed, including Emmaus track and field assistant coach Rob Gallagher.

For Gallagher (who started competing in marathons back in 2006), this marked his 17th consecutive year running the Boston Marathon. As a veteran of the race, Gallagher said the Boston Marathon has a special place in his heart and plays an important role in his life.

“Every year, we would go up together: [I], my wife, and my two sons. Not only does my running year revolve around the Boston Marathon, but we’ve turned it into a little family vacation,” Gallagher said. “We go up there and we see Red Sox games. Many years, we’ve seen the Bruins and the Celtics in the playoffs.”

Gallagher ran the Boston Marathon in 2013 and was present for its horrific events. Fortunately for Gallagher, 2013 was one of the only years his family was not able to go and support him during his race. 

“[2013] was the very first year that my family didn’t join me. So it actually was fortuitous that if there was ever a year that I’d rather not have them there [it would be 2013],” Gallagher said. “They would typically watch me finish on Boylston Street, where the tragedy occurred, but they’re generally up the street a little and what happened was closer to the finish line, and I had crossed before so they probably would have been out of the area. But still, given everything that was going on, I was glad they weren’t there.”

Although a tragedy, the bombing inspired many runners to compete the following year in 2014 as a sign of solidarity and support. One such runner was another Emmaus track and field assistant coach, Mark Wiragh.

Wiragh, following the events of the 2013 bombing, decided to run the Boston Marathon the next year to send a message to those who had doubts about ever partaking in the event again.

“After the bombing, a lot of runners were scared,” Wiragh said. “I made it my mission to be vocal on social media to run the Boston Marathon in 2014.”

When running in the 2014 Boston Marathon, the supportive and electric atmosphere along the route stood out. Wiragh’s main goal was to show that there was nothing to be scared of — seeing people show up and not allow fear to deter them from celebrating such an incredible event was touching.

“Have you ever seen the Super Bowl when the teams run out of the tunnels and the crowds go crazy? That was the atmosphere [of the 2014 Boston Marathon], but for 26.2 miles straight,” Wiragh said, who has been friends with Gallagher since kindergarten.

 “To me, it shows how resilient people are and that people shouldn’t let fear rule them and stop them from running,” he said.

Much like Wiragh, Gallagher’s mother, who often goes to Boston to support Gallagher’s marathons, had the same perspective after the 2013 bombing.

“I was out [having] breakfast with my mom a couple weeks [after the bombing], and she said, ‘Can I go next year?’” Gallagher said. “She wanted to be there because they were already starting to talk about how Boston in 2014 will be [safe]. The evildoers that did what they did that day thought they were going to instill fear that would keep people away. For my family and my mom, it was the opposite effect – they wanted to come back.”

To remember the lives lost as a result of the bombing, every year on April 15 at exactly 2:50 p.m., a moment of silence is held at the finish line of the marathon. At the Boston library, a building right next to the finish line, memorials are created to remember those who had lost their lives. 

Spencer and Penny were two golden retrievers that were well known along the marathon’s route, but sadly passed away last February. To honor them, and to honor every other runner who completed the grueling course, a local golden retriever group organized the event. Along with the 10-year anniversary commemorations, almost 250 golden retrievers joined the race for the final stretch alongside the triumphant runners this year in honor of Spencer and Penny. 

Ten years after the bombing, the Boston Marathon is as lively as ever. Wrapping up its 127th official marathon, April 15 is now engraved into Boston as a day of unity and strength. To runners like Gallagher, Wiragh, and tens of thousands of others all over the world, April 15 will always be remembered as a reason to keep on running.