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Cheering for strangers at the Boston Marathon

Spectators at the Boston Marathon. (İpek Eser/YJI)

BOSTON – I have never watched a marathon before. The only closest thing was walking the streets of Paris with my teacher and classmates in 2019 during a marathon. One friend of mine tackled one of the runners, and a few unpleasant words were exchanged.

This time though, thankfully, I crossed no tackling nor foreign swear words at the Boston Marathon.

Not that you could go next to the runners – there were a lot of police officers and two fences on either side of the road preventing spectators from even trying.

I don’t often feel proud of strangers. One time that happened was when the national volleyball team in Turkey won the Women’s Volleyball Championship. I felt overjoyed for some reason, maybe because I happen to be Turkish. Who knows.

At the Boston Marathon though, I didn’t know anyone’s nationality. I just guessed that most were American with maybe a few foreigners who just came here for the race.

And yet, when I saw the people in the wheelchairs fly through and the first runners approach the finish line, I felt so happy for them.

I got excited on their behalf. Finally, they had finished this long, taxing marathon and they had succeeded in completing it. I was proud of them.

Tommy Fitzgerald, who was there to support his friends who were running, said this was the most exciting thing to watch. I asked him why.

‘‘The energy is amazing in these marathons,” Fitzgerald said. “The whole city comes out, and everyone puts in hard work for it!’’

Indeed, many people were there watching, so much so that the streets of Boston had only narrow spaces for people to walk.

I always say that the best part of Boston is that it’s a city with no unnecessary congestion of people, but on Monday, I guess the people were all in the same place at the same time.

Fitzgerald also said Boston is the best place for games. This was his fifth time watching the Marathon in person.

‘‘I would suggest Boston to anyone who wants to watch a good game,” he said. “It’s my favorite city.’’

Ronan Joyce, a student at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, showed up to support his running camp counselor and a professor who teaches about war and literature.

Such an interesting combination.

‘‘Why them?’’ I asked. His camp counselor has been doing this for years. Since Joyce spent a whole summer under the counselor’s supervision, he knew the counselor was running.

The professor told them in class.

Joyce wasn’t there alone, but with his friends, who made fun little posters for the runners to see.

Similar to Fitzgerald, Joyce also said the best part of the marathon is the support everyone gives to each other.

‘‘It’s inspiring to watch all these runners,” Joyce said.

(Story continues after video.)

On the finish line of the 2024 Boston Marathon

Both of them said they had almost always been affiliated with sports and exercise.

Fitzgerald, a 22-year-old speedskater, is training in Wisconsin with hopes of making the U.S. Olympic team.

Joyce is majoring in exercise and health sciences and said his mom has run in marathons in Boston, Chicago, and New York.

‘‘My mom is pretty badass,” said Joyce.

Both men said they were interested in participating in the Boston Marathon someday.

‘‘I want to run in this marathon because it makes a person challenge themselves,” said Joyce. “I think I will try to run in it in my junior year.’’

Fitzpatrick’s goal is to someday run in the marathon but said he wants to volunteer at the race, too.

It’s quite impressive to want to run in this marathon. At least to me, it is. I hate running. It’s not my area of sport.

It’s not as easy as you might think to run in this marathon. I am not talking about the whole running part here.

Joyce informed me that racers have to qualify for Boston’s marathon.

‘‘The application evaluations are really obnoxious,” said Joyce. “It’s ridiculously hard to get into this marathon.’’

I’m relieved to know that my friends can’t pull a prank on me by simply writing my name into a box and then saying, ‘‘Hey, you are in the marathon. You know that, right?’’

İpek Eser is a Reporter and Senior Illustrator with Youth Journalism International.

More marathon coverage from YJI:

Thousands cheer Boston Marathon racers

Dad runs NYC Marathon, gives daughter reasons to cheer

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