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Boston Marathon unifies residents and spectators

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Residents from across Massachusetts and beyond gathered in the City of Boston Monday to watch as approximately 30,000 runners participated in the 2016 Boston Marathon.

For many residents of the Boston area, the marathon has become a tradition they anticipate each year.

Julie Mastromonaco, 42, of Brookline, said she and her friends look forward to participating in the annual celebration, and even have a tradition of their own.

“My friends and I have been this doing this every year,” Mastromonaco said. “We get up early and we actually bike the route. We start in Hopkinton and ride all the way in, and it’s become a great tradition for us and it’s a great way to feel like you’re a part of the whole. The energy is amazing.”

Mastromonaco added that she was pleased to see everyday people running in the challenging race.

“My favorite part is not watching the elite runners, it’s watching the people that I can relate to, that are like me, that have jobs every day,” she said. “It’s not their job to be in shape — they have to do it on their own time. I live at the 24th mile, and you see them running and everyone is so tired by then, but it’s actually really fun for us to cheer people on and participate in that way.”

Nicolle Paeglow, 55, of Back Bay, said she has been watching the marathon since her college days at Boston University.

“I live right near the finish line, so I come out every year,” she said. “I went to BU, so I’ve been coming for a long time.”

Mary Foley, 51, of the South End, shared the sentiment, and said the marathon runners have inspired her for more than 30 years.

“I moved in [1984], and it was my first time being a spectator and it was just so moving, so unbelievably exciting,” Foley said. “It’s invigorating … You get caught up in the excitement, and it brings the city together.”

She added, “I’ve had a lot of friends over the years who have run it … I could never imagine running — or even walking — a marathon, so I give them a lot of credit for doing this.”

Keith Zalaski, 32, of Charlestown, said Boston’s energy draws him to the festivities each year.

“We moved to Boston five years ago, and we come out every year for it,” he said. “It’s just one of the best days of the year in Boston. Everyone’s out, everyone’s loving life, everyone’s happy … I think it’s the one day that Boston has that other cities don’t. It’s really significant in the sense that no other place, no other city, no other country is celebrating, but to Boston[ians], it’s their day.”

Several Boston locals also expressed how the Boston Marathon brings the whole city together for a day.

Vinny Faso, 27, of Allston, said he loves to see everyone in the various neighborhoods of the city unite as one for the annual festivities.

“Just seeing everyone get together in Boston today, going to the marathon, seeing that unity is inspiring,” Faso said. “We were hanging out in Allston earlier, which is also a very festive area of Boston, and it’s a great day of the year.”

Doug Sears, 62, of Back Bay, also said he likes to see how the marathon brings the community together to support all the runners. He also said he draws inspiration from those who accomplish such a huge triumph.

“It’s always inspiring to watch the finishers as they come through, both the elite and the other runners and participants of other categories — especially the wheelchairs,” he said. “It’s sort of inspiring and transcendent because it’s so moving to see what people accomplish. It’s nice to cheer on people who are making a huge effort … I think what’s really fun, is that there’s a story behind every runner.”

Laura Broadbent, 46, of Charlton, ran the marathon in 2009 and reflected this year on how much she loved its energy.

“Since childbirth, running the Boston Marathon was my No. 1 experience in life,” she said. “It was absolutely incredible. It made me realize that you truly can do anything you want in life — anything. I never dreamed that I would be able to train, let alone finish. I love Boston, I love the feel of Boston, and to be here on the other side is bittersweet. I hope to run again next year.”

Alex Li, Alyssa Meyers, Dave Sebastian, Paige Smith and Kyler Sumter contributed to the reporting of this article.

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