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Two marathons, two perspectives

UConn student details Boston marathon experience

By Kathleen McWilliams
On April 21, 2014

  • Patrick Casey (left) Tim O’Neill (middle) and Alexi George (right) moments after a successful Boston Marathon. George recalls two vastly different marathons in a years time. Contributed

When Alexi George, a 6th-semester Natural Resource Economics major, arrived in Boston on April 15, 2013 she had no idea that her runner's pilgrimage would end in a day of tragedy.
"Last year I went with a few friends from the distance running club I am vice president of on campus called UConn Endurance. We just went to spectate," George said. "We went because we all run half and full marathons, so going to races, especially the Boston Marathon-in that is prestigious-is like making a pilgrimage for a runner."
This year, George returned to the marathon to complete the story and to support a friend who ran yesterday after qualifying to run in the 2013 marathon, but studying abroad instead.
"For me, this year was different because our friend who was supposed to run last year, ran this year upon returning home from Study Abroad. I went to the marathon with my boyfriend who was there with us last year," George said. "We went to support our friend running the race. We also went because it felt right, we couldn't imagine not going. We were in a similar spot as last year. I felt incredibly patriotic because the security was top notch."
A notable increase in security was one change that George noted in the atmosphere at the 2014 marathon. George said there were numerous security checkpoints and policemen everywhere in comparison to previous years.
"There were tons of cops on bikes and all bags were checked. It was a beautiful day. During marathons it is common for National Guard members to run the whole marathon as well, and I felt very emotional cheering for them as they ran by," George said.
One of the most emotional aspects of the marathon, George said, was watching the National Guard run as well as amputees.
"Many paralyzed people and amputees cycle the race, and that was powerful as well because in the back of my mind I wondered if any of them had been those who were injured last year," George said. "However, the most amazing thing about today was experiencing the race over again with two of my favorite people, this time with very different outlook and a lot to be happy and thankful for."
George recalled how the events of last year transpired at the marathon finish line.
"We heard what I think were some controlled explosions, which were very scary because at the time we did not know what they were. Cops were everywhere, and their radios were constantly talking in fast, worried voices about what was happening," George said. "They were rushing down the streets in both cop cars and unmarked cars. We even at one point had to rush to tear down some race barricades so that the cop cars could get through."
Although she was close to Boston University and away from the finish line, George said the fear in the atmosphere was tangible.
"It was scary because we didn't know what was going on, and also because it was a sad end to a beautiful race," George said.


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