What's so special about the Boston Marathon?

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The Boston Marathon is not just a marathon. There are over 700 of them around the world. You can find one in nearly every major city in the world now.

The Boston Marathon was the first marathon to actually stick in one place, and it has grown into the most iconic of marathon events in the world. Boston is also a marathon that requires most of its participants to qualify. That means that the 24,000 running in Boston are some of the most committed runners in the sport.

Qualifying for Boston took me eight marathons. My qualifying time was 2:51, I believe, and I missed it by 28 seconds. Qualifying for Boston was a big deal for me, as it is for any runner who makes the standards.

I head to Boston the week before, and the excitement begins on Wednesday and Thursday, as runners and their families come to town and buy everything Boston Marathon. I like to go to the Marathon expo on Friday, as the crowd begins to get larger and larger. Walk into the sponsor, adidas's booth, and you will see a real furor over the Boston marathon jacket and official clothes.

Many people like to get pictures at the finish line, and it will have fans walking the finish at all hours of the night over the marathon weekend. I should know, as my hotel room, for many years, was right at the finish line, at the Charlesmark hotel.

The 2013 race changed the Boston Marathon. The bombing was an attack not only on the marathon, and the city of Boston, but on much of what is good about American life. What do I mean by that? For much of my life, Americans have been respected for accepting differences in our fellow citizens, actually celebrating them. I am concerned, terribly, about the partisanship I have noticed over the past couple years. The bombing should help us understand that, in the end, little else matters but who you love and who loves you. Religion, political party affiliation, race, education, wealth mean nothing. When a can of metal nails blows up and maims you, nothing that you think is important means squat, except that your family and friends are okay.

What's so special about the Boston Marathon? Everything. From the expo, to the families and friends, to the smell of spring along Boylston street, to walks or runs around Boston Commons, to the growing excitement from runners as the weekend gets closer to Patriot's Day.

I hope to see you at the marathon this weekend. This will be my thirty-first straight year writing about the Boston Marathon.

My day starts around 6:30 AM as I head to the Media room, one of the largest for a single sporting day event. We will cover the race for eight to ten hours, and speak with friends about how the race went and how they felt on Marathon day.

One of my buddies will be finishing his thirty-fifth straight Boston marathon. I hope to be there to see him, and then, go see the world's best bartender, Jefferson, at the Charlesmark, and check in and see how Patriot's Day went.

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