BOSTON -- There was a loud bang in the Athletes Village in Hopkinton before the start of Monday’s Boston Marathon. And for a moment, everyone in the mass of runners was on edge.
“Everyone’s first reaction was evacuate, evacuate the area,” longtime race director Dave McGillivray said in the postrace wrap-up news conference Tuesday morning. “And then we investigated right away and it was a tire that blew on a bus. But everybody was on edge because we didn’t know. But we were safe, everything was fine and it got dealt with right way and we carried on.”
A year and a week after two bombs killed three, injured more than 260 and prevented the 117th Boston Marathon from finishing, the 118th edition of the race came and went without any major hitches -- something McGillivray said he thought was “unfathomable” because of all the people and moving parts involved.
“The one word I have to describe it all, to be honest, is epic,” McGillivray said. “Epic. … We will never see this again. This was a race for the ages, for sure.
“After last year’s race we got so many emails and phone calls [because of the bombings]. Interestingly, we’re getting the same amount right now, this year, but for a whole different reason.”
BAA officials said all the preparation -- which was far more extensive and began far earlier than it had in previous years -- paid off for 2014, but it’s too early to say whether the 2015 marathon will follow the same blueprint as far as field size or security plan.
“As great as this was [Monday], all the extra manpower, all the law enforcement, all the equipment, I just don’t see how all that could continue at that level,” McGillivray said. “But it remains to be seen.
“I think the new normal is more of a hybrid of 2013, in terms of what went on before 2:50 [p.m.], and 2014. I think it’s gonna settle somewhere in the middle, is my gut sense.”
Of the 32,408 runners to start the 2014 race, 32,144 officially finished, a 99 percent finishing rate.
“Ninety-nine percent of the people who toed the line in Hopkinton crossed the finish line in Boston. That’s amazing,” McGillivray said. “That’s amazing when you think about it. People were determined to finish this thing, and they did.”
With a blazing 2:08:37 finish, Meb Keflezighi became the first American man to win Boston since 1983. And Rita Jeptoo returned to Boston and successfully defended her title, winning the race for the third time with a 2:18:57 finish -- a new course record.
“It was just a joyous moment yesterday, to have the opportunity to run freely and express yourself,” Keflezighi said. “As Nelson Mandela before said, sports unites. If that didn’t happen yesterday, I don’t know when else it would happen. Sports does unite everybody, not only in Boston but in America and in the world.
“And for me, that was my goal for [the past] 365 days. I just wanted to get that opportunity, and there are checkmarks sometimes. The Boston Red Sox did it, can I do it? And I’ve been visualizing that, and to make that happen and to wake up the next morning it’s like, ‘Wow. Did that really happen?’”
Women’s wheelchair champion Tatyana McFadden spoke about being inspired by meeting little Jane Richard -- sister of Martin Richard -- in the days before the race.
“Just talking with her, she just had this spark in her eye,” McFadden said. “And the last words that the family said was, ‘Please run for Martin and for the community.’ And I said I promise that I will.
“I knew it was gonna be a great morning when I woke up with jitters in my stomach.”
Monday was McFadden’s 25th birthday, and the Boston title was her second consecutive.
As the officials and champions spoke, traffic bustled down Boylston Street and workers took down the tents in front of the Boston Public Library, continuing the steps to return Copley Square to normal after the race.
Security was obviously a big concern in the lead-up to this year’s marathon, and though they appeared to be successful officials said it’s too soon to say if the new procedures -- which included no bags and increased scrutiny at checkpoints along the course -- will remain in place long term.
“I think you can expect to see just exactly the right amount of security, just the proper blend of security and celebration going forward, as we had yesterday,” Grilk said. “Precisely how that will play out, time will tell.”
Coming into 2014, medical coordinator Chris Troyanos was worried about the emotions that his team would feel returning to the scene of last year’s attacks. But he said the medical volunteers were “superb.”
“Was there a little bit of an anxiety level? Sure, no question about it,” Troyanos said. “But as soon as those runners started to come into that medical tent, that anxiety went away and they did exactly what they needed to do.”
Troyanos said because of the combination of the warm weather and the expanded field there were 3,762 total course and finish line medical encounters, including 192 runners who were taken to hospitals either along the course or in Boston. Medical Tent A treated 1,137 runners, Medical Tent B treated 645 and the Boston Common tent treated 54.
And though the last of the equipment was still in Copley Square from this year’s race as he spoke, McGillivray, always the planner, was already looking ahead to 2015.
“I know we’re here and the dust hasn’t settled yet,” he said. “But next year, what’s it gonna be? Well this year was recovery, healing, processing and then conceptualization of 2014 would be and the planning and execution. Next year, at least we don’t have to recover, we don’t necessarily have to heal, we don’t necessarily have to process. We can get right at it, get right at what 2015 will be.
“And we’ll do that about noontime today.”