Steven Smith expected the heightened security and the pre-race moment of silence to honor victims of last year’s bombing before Monday’s running of the Boston Marathon.
He’d heard about the famed tradition of coed students from Wellesley College kissing runners near the race’s halfway point.
What touched Smith, 41, a truck driver from Shepherdsville, Ky., was the kindness and support he encountered from race supporters throughout Monday’s marathon.
“I’ve never seen so many people shaking hands with you and cheering for you,” Smith said by phone after the race. “Afterwards, everyone was walking around telling you, ‘congratulations.’
One year after last year’s bombing attack at the finish line, Monday’s race was hailed as a return to the celebration of the world’s oldest continuously held marathon. More than 3,500 police officers worked security at the race, which is twice as many as last year. Race organizers estimated a crowd of 1 million spectators cheered the runners on – doubling the marathon’s typical crowd.
With an impressive race time of 3 hours, 25 minutes, Smith finished 6,561 out of the race’s reported 36,000 entrants. Smith said Monday’s marathon wasn’t his best, “but it wasn’t my worst time either.”
Despite pushing himself to run fast, Smith was able to soak in the atmosphere of the marathon and talk with other runners. Smith completed his first marathon in April 2013, and said Boston’s race had a big-time feel throughout all 26.2 miles. Despite increased security, the race didn’t seem to carry any added tension, he said.
Workers at medical stations said the most common ailments this year were dehydration and muscle cramps.
“Most people had a pretty good smile on their face when you tell them you’re a truck driver,” Smith said. “Everything just felt really upbeat. People kept talking about moving forward.”
Smith is one of two runners with ties to the Truckin’ Runners group on Facebook.com who completed the marathon. Massachusetts resident Roger Wright also finished the race after powering through multiple injuries along the way.
“This year’s race was not about me, but about healing a wounded city,” Wright wrote on Facebook. “And without question, it succeeded.”
Smith credited the Truckin’ Runners group for giving him good advice and support. He’ll meet up with Bill Baker, another driver and runner from the group, to run a distance race in June.
Running while trucking isn’t easy, Smith said. “It’s hard. You just have to get out there and hit the road,” he said. “You have to make time. After a while, you get to know which states have enough shelter, or good trails down off of the roads.”
Smith would likely run no matter who he drove for, but his employer has supported his racing and helped line up routes to match his schedule before and after Monday’s marathon.
Before Smith hit the starting line, co-workers at Riverside Transportation Inc. were spurring him on with notes posted to his Facebook page.
“They encourage me,” Smith said. “I couldn’t do all this without them. You have to have a company that’s willing to work with you.”
On Tuesday, Smith was scheduled to pick up a load in New Hampshire.
“I’ll be rolling sometime tomorrow,” Smith said Monday, still in awe of the race and all the people cheering runners on. “I’ve never seen so many people.”
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