Among distance runners, few races are as prestigious as the Boston Marathon.
For five years, Lexington’s Scott Flicker dreamed of running the course of the race, which starts in the town of Hopkinton, and lifting his arms in triumph after crossing the Boylston Street finish line in Boston’s Back Bay section.
“When I ran my first marathon, in Atlanta in 2009, (Boston) became a goal,” said Flicker, 40. A runner from an early age, the New Jersey native had taken a break from running for several years before picking up the pursuit again. It took him three races to qualify for the Boston. He achieved the requisite time at the October 2012 Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., too late to register to compete at Boston in 2013.
When the 2013 race ended in tragedy – with bombs exploding near the finish line, killing three and injuring nearly 300 – Flicker’s desire to run took on added significance.
This year, Flicker was one of a handful of Columbia-area runners among the 35,755 runners who registered for the race – around 5,000 of those were runners who received invitations to return because they were unable to complete last year’s race because of the bombing.
“I wanted to come up here and show support for the city, and the race, and make it a good memory again and not about last year,” said Flicker, a computer programmer for Blue Cross, who wore bib number 8077.
That sentiment was echoed along the entire race course, by fans and competitors, and added to the excitement.
Californian Meb Keflizighi, 38, won the renowned 26.2 mile race finishing in 2 hours, 8 minutes and 37 seconds. West Columbia’s runner Justin Bishop finished in 2:42.34, 447th overall. Flicker registered a 3:17:51 finish, and enjoyed every minute of it.
“The experience was just incredible,” he said. “It’s people walking out of their front door, cheering for random strangers running down the street. It’s like the Olympics.”
Flicker was inspired by the supporters wearing the names of the 2013 bombing victims, by the runners with prosthetic legs, and by Team Hoyt – 60-year-old father Dick and his wheelchair-bound son Rick – all of whom he passed along the way.
He did not achieve the time goal he had set for himself but Flicker said he had never felt more encouraged.
“The closest thing to that feeling is the last mile of the Cooper River Bridge Run, but even that is no comparison to what this was for 26 miles,” he said.
Flicker and his family are staying in Boston for the week. He plans to run the Boston race again to try to improve his time, but he might repeat the course this week – this time in a car – just to relish the experience.
“I just thank God for giving me the ability to run,” Flicker said.