After hundreds of runners streamed over the Boston Marathon finish line Sunday evening, the song playing over loudspeakers in Copley Square captured the spirit perfectly: “Happy.”
The final group of runners finished the 3,328-mile cross-country relay called One Run, which began March 16 in Santa Monica, Calif., on Boylston Street about 6 p.m. Sunday.
One Run was founded after the Boston Marathon bombings last April to raise money for the One Fund. As of early Sunday night, the 2014 One Run had raised more than $430,000.
Runners, along with Marathon survivors, danced, sang, and hugged in Copley Square as organizers praised their effort.
Among them were families and friends of Sean Collier, the MIT police officer killed last year before a chase and shootout with the bombing suspects in Watertown.
Collier’s sister Jennifer Lemmerman ran the final stretch of One Run on Sunday, saying she is not usually a runner, but the joy and camaraderie of the event helped her to the finish.
“That energy carries you,” she said. When asked what made this race special, Lemmerman said: “The symbolism of it, the baton’s been carried by all these people from across the country.”
Lynn Crisci, 37, of the Back Bay, said she was injured by the first bomb last year and plans to run the 2014 Boston Marathon with a group of fellow survivors. The 4 miles she ran Sunday were easy, she said, until the turn onto Boylston Street from Exeter Street. That was when emotion overcame her.
“My knees just got weak and started to buckle,” she said. Another survivor grabbed her arm and helped her forward.
Though most One Run participants said they had no idea what to expect when they reached Copley Square Sunday, the exuberance and support did not come as a shock. Bystanders applauded and held signs with inspirational phrases.
“I can’t say I’m surprised,” said Heather Abbott, whose injuries from the bombing were so severe that she underwent an amputation of one leg. “People have just been going above and beyond to support people that were hurt last year in the Marathon bombing.”
Though the upcoming anniversary of the attack looms as a weight for survivors, Abbott said participating in the One Run was a thrill. “If I knew I was going to be running with the baton, I would have put my running leg on,” she said.
The event was created last year in part to restore the pleasure of running, and the atmosphere Sunday stuck to that theme. Participants spoke of recovery and progress more than grief. “The survivors have been our inspiration every step of the way,” Dave McGillivray, longtime director of the Marathon, told the crowd in Copley Square.
He pointed back toward Boylston Street as his voice surged. “And we’re taking back that street, and we’re taking back that finish line, and we will not be denied our running freedom ever.”Zachary T. Sampson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @ZackSampson.