Gary Morgan's Boston Diary: Mr. Ubiquitous runs 2014 Boston, by Gary Morgan of Michigan Runner

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Gary Morgan is the associate editor of Michigan Runner. 

A 1988 Olympian over 20k, Gary runs 30 races a year, where he paces pacing groups in half and full marathons. 

He is known at Mr. Ubiquitous, and he is the craziest guy I know. In 2012, Gary fell down about four thousand feet on Mt.Hood and survived. I love this guy. 

For years, we did the Gary and Larry show, our videos when we were on the road. Check out our coverage of 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials. 

This column, from Gary is his week in Boston. It is thoughtful, heartfelt, and touching. 

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The BAA 5k, by PhotoRun.net
Wednesday, April 16th   

I have a free day so I go visit Salem, Massachusetts, home of the Salem Witch hunts in 1692. That's such a small part of the history of that city. Plus that happened one short year and it was over. 19 people were hanged and one was stoned to death. 

I took the 30 minute train ride up from Boston. As soon as I walked into the city there's a red line on the sidewalk going to all of the sites in the city. My first stop was the National Park Visitor center. 

The Customs house and surrounding buildings were designated as the first Maritime National Historic site in 1937.  They told me the interesting places to go for the day. Went through the old cemetery. Interesting to check out cemetery's from long ago. Then I went to the Harbor. As I was walking around, a National Park Ranger was conducting a tour. I got a tour of the Friendship of Salem a 171 foot  replica merchant ship built in 2000. It was awesome seeing how the sailors lived on a ship that did world wide travel back then. 

Then, I went through the Customs house where author Nathaniel Hawthorne worked as a clerk. I didn't know he was born and lived a good portion of his life there. Salem was a huge commercial shipping harbor in the 1800's. Up to 1913, customs taxes paid for everything the US government did. A lot of it came through Salem as ships sailed around the world bringing back goods to the USA. Great tour of the ship and customs house. I highly recommend it. 

From there I went to the House of Seven Gables, which was Nathaniel Hawthorne's birth place and childhood home. His two most famous books were The Scarlet Letter which had a picture of the Customs house, and the House of Seven Gables. I stopped at the country's oldest candy store established in 1806 and obviously bought some of there candy. From there I walked around the rest of the city. 

Went by all the Witch Museums which were closed since it was after 5pm. Plus there is several other points of interest to numerous to mention. The busiest day of the year here is Halloween. A huge festival that draws thousands every year. I hear it is a blast to see the city then. It was amazing to me that this city has so much history and things that have happened here since it was founded in 1629. During the summer there's a ferry from Boston which I hear is a great boat ride here. When you come to Boston and you have time, visit Salem to see and do things that isn't found anywhere else.

    Thursday, April17th, I volunteered at the expo at the Hynes Convention Center helping to setup merchandise for Adidas. It was pretty cool helping to set up for a major expo and seeing what goes on behind the scenes. It's amazing how much goes on to set up for an expo and how quick it gets done. The expo opened on Friday.  As this week has went on here in Boston I'm surprised how many people are here to watch or be a part of the marathon even though they were not running. Even in Salem I ran into people who are in Boston for the week just to see it all. Last years tragedy has turned this years marathon into the must see marathon of the world. I also went to the Fairmont Copley Hotel and picked up my Media credentials. I ran into many of my Media colleagues, It's like a reunion at every major marathon especially here in Boston. As I walked out of the hotel into Copley Square, workers are out there setting up the last of what needs to be done. It's looking Marathon Monday is going to be a special day.

     Friday, April18th, It's elite athlete day at the Copley Hotel. They introduce last years winners and give them there bibs in front of the media crowd. Everyone takes pictures. Most of the elite athletes are on the stage and there is approximately 50 of them. 

From there the athletes go to separate tables where members of the media can interview them. I interviewed Ryan Hall,2 time Olympian,  Meb Keflezighi, 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist,  Desiree Linden 2nd in 2011 Boston Marathon, Uta Pippig, 3 time Boston Marathon winner 1994-1996, Tatayana McFadden, 2013 Boston  wheelchair champion and 2014 Sochi Paralympic silver medalist in Cross country skiing.

All of these athletes have great stories behind their success. All of them have risen above obstacles to become champion athletes. All of them have prepared and are ready to win at Boston. Most of them you have heard their stories. Ryan, Meb and Desiree have traveled the world over the winter to prepare for Monday's race. 

Yet the most amazing story I heard was from Tatyana McFadden. Right after winning the New York City Marathon in November she went to Colorado and learned how to cross country ski. She trained with other Paralympic athletes there. Made the Sochi Olympic team and won a silver medal. I asked her what was the greatest moment in Sochi. 

She told me that having her birth parents and adopted parents there to see here win the Silver medal. Tatyana had Spina bifida at birth, left at an orphanage. She was adopted by an American single mother from Baltimore. Took up sports to become stronger and has become one of America's greatest athletes. Proof positive that hard work and believing in yourself can change your life forever.

   Went to the Boston Library in Copley Square and saw the Boston Marathon Memorial. It was a memorial of items left at the bombing site until June. When they were picked up by the Boston artifact society.  

Hundreds of items were on display. It was a moving moment to see what people had left there. As tragedy's happen around the world. The Human spirit binds us together and to Never Forget. This is what makes us all Stronger. From here I headed over to the Expo and picked up my Bib to run the Marathon. Expo looks a whole lot different than yesterday, all put together. Lots of the regular exhibitors there and a few new ones. 

Lots of Boston Strong Messages all over. I really liked the course video that they had going all the time. I thought it was cool as they should how Boston went from Winter to Spring then to marathon day showing the course. Huge crowd around it all the time. Saucony  shoes had a cool poster showing all the facts around the marathon. Like how much water is used, cups, signs, volunteers, etc.  It put it into perspective how big this event is.

    Saturday April, 19th. The Boston Marathon, Boston Athletic Association (BAA) 5k. Lots of elite athletes along with over 8,600 runners. The race started and ended at Boston Commons. A park in Central Boston. Lots of excitement on a beautiful morning in Boston. I watched the start and it took 13  minutes for all of the runners to cross the line. As the last runner went out, the winners came in. It was a dead heat finish between American Ben True and Ethiopian Dejen Gebremeskel. Dejen was the victor with a time of 13:26. American Molly Huddle came from behind to win with a time of 15:12. Both were record times.  

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Molly Huddle, photo by PhotoRun.net

From there I headed to the finish line area of the Marathon at Copley Square where they were having the invitation of miles. It's a three lap course around the block for the mile. So it was great for spectators as the athletes came by three times.  There was middle school, high school and elite milers, men and women. In the elite race, New Zealander, training in Ann Arbor Michigan, Nick Willis won the mile for a second time and was very pleased with it as us press people interviewed him after his victory. Morgan Uceny was the women's winner for the third time in the mile. Danie Matusik drove into town and got to see the elites run and was impressed. 

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Morgan Uceny, photo by PhotoRun.net

It's always impressive to see people who have become great at their profession no matter what it is. Went to Competitor/adidas reception and ran into Rick Harshbarger, Running USA CEO,  former race director of Detroit Marathon. Asked him how he is enjoying his new job? Reply was "Lots of travel and learning a lot about the sport, First time at the Boston Marathon"  Talked to Jacqueline Hansen, 1974 Boston winner, and Danie got a picture with Olympian, Kara Goucher. Who's injured and watching from the sidelines this year. Great way to end a fantastic day in Boston.

    Sunday April, 20th. It's Easter Sunday so no marathon related events going today other than the Expo. We go to the Finish Line area and meet one of Danie's groups that she really enjoys being a part of The Marathon Maniacs. 

They always do a group photo at the Boston marathon finish line every year. Approximately 250 of them qualified for Boston. There was around 100 of them there as I was taking pictures and filming. I met a couple of the founders of the organization. Got a great interview with them. They started in 2003 with 3 people and now have over 9000 members. It's around $15 a year to join and get there newsletter. Plus they have merchandise for sale. 

From what I saw they look like a fun group. It's nice to know a few marathoners from other places when you run them.  From there we took another round at the Expo. With 10,000 more runners this year, the expo was overly crowded. Showed Danie the memorial at the Library. There was a much longer line than Friday

That evening went to the World Famous Boston Marathon Pasta Party at City Hall. The line was long but it moved incredibly fast. I ran into a friend of mine from Columbia. His family was with him, wife and children plus some friends. He has a magazine/website he writes for and wants to get more US exposure. Since the Olympics are coming to South America I'm sure that can happen. He wants me to come visit. I hope to make it there sometime. 

As we get to city Hall for dinner, The mayor, Tom Grilck, executive director of the BAA, and Bill Rodgers gave speeches before we went in and ate. There was lots of cool things to take pictures of at City Hall. All the city signs from all the towns we run through, Sam Adams Poster boards, etc. The people that we sat with were from Pennsylvania. 

Husband and wife, she was running and he was spectating. He was stationed in the Coast Guard at Belle Isle in 1983. He knows Detroit well. I asked her if she has ever run Detroit marathon. She said no but maybe she will now. Plus a race walking friend of mine joined us. Jolene Moore now from Chicago originally from Benzie county, near Traverse City.

People from Michigan are everywhere.  I love pre race pasta party's because you meet people from everywhere and it's such a festive atmosphere. This is what marathoning is all about. We get out of there with our desert bags and go to the hotel.  Get ready for the race the whole World has been waiting for the last year.

    Boston Marathon Monday, It's finally here. We get up at 4:15 and drive to my friends house. Take the train into the city. Get our Starbucks coffee and board the Media Bus to the start. We watch all the elites board their bus along with their coaches. I usually film the start and interview other runners but couldn't do that this year because no baggage could be sent back to Boston. 

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Meb Keflezighi, photo by PhotoRun.net

This year, I just ran it an observed everything going on. It was amazing how everything went off great. Danie started in the 2nd wave. Wished her good luck and I stated in the last wave number 4. When you start in the back you get to see everything from a different perspective and it's really cool. 

Finally we lineup at 11:15 and take off at 11:25. This was my twelfth time running this race so I can't get lost. The most amazing thing was the crowds. There wasn't a piece of real estate that wasn't occupied by someone the entire way. As the miles clicked off and I saw the crowds everywhere I truly was honored to be a part of this historic day to see Boston and the USA at it's finest. As I crested Heartbreak hill at 21 miles I knew I could plug along another 5 miles to finish. 

Plus, it was great to see all those Boston College young people still cheering us stragglers at the end, hours after the top runners came by. That what was amazing to me that the crowds were still there 3-4 hours after the winners had come by. 

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Rita Jeptoo, photo by PhotoRun.net

The most emotional part of the entire week for me came as I went under the Mass Ave Bridge underpass 1 k from the finish. 

That where they stopped us last year from finishing and we got the news of the bombing then.  They put up that 1 k banner from the finish line that had never been there before. 

As I turned the corner onto Boylston Street and just a quarter mile to go. It was phenomenal feeling to be running in downtown Boston again. I thank God I'm an American everyday and I'm so thankful we can run here no matter what extremist do to us we will rise again. 

I crossed the finish line got my medal, took my picture of the finish line and knew that this was a day for the ages and no one will ever forget.

Boston Rises again and is the greatest Marathon in the World.

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Shalane Flanagan, photo by PhotoRun.net

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