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‘Just surreal silence.’ A report from the Boston Marathon start and finish lines on what should have been race day

There were no crowds of runners in Hopkinton on this Patriots Day.
There were no crowds of runners in Hopkinton on this Patriots Day.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

The Boston Marathon start line was eerily empty on Patriots Day.

Blue cones were placed in nearly every parking spot around Hopkinton’s Echo Lake Park, and several police cruisers patrolled the area in hopes of preventing rogue runners from beginning the 26.2-mile trek from its usual spot.

“No Parking on Mon.,” read a solar traffic message board. “Tow Zone.”

With the marathon postponed until Sept. 14, the town of Hopkinton and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh had implored the 31,000 registered participants to stay off the course Monday.

For the most part, it appears people listened.

"No runners, no spectators, just surreal silence,” said Joe Lorenc, who has lived in Hopkinton for 32 years and popped by around 7:30 a.m. to take in this year’s very different scene.

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Some folks stopped to take photos of the faded starting line, which has not yet been repainted this year. Others jogged on the sidewalk, with one shouting out, "I live here!” as if to make it clear he was not flouting the rules.

There was at least one individual who did defy Walsh.

The man, who asked to remain anonymous, arrived at the start line at 4:50 a.m. and was greeted by his wife and three daughters at the finish line about 4 hours and 20 minutes later. He said he was aware of the request for runners to stay off the course.

Had police or government officials approached him and asked him to stop, the man said, he would have complied.

“I’m not trying to cause any trouble,” he said. "It was a beautiful day for it. That’s all.”

Lindsay Devers, who ran across the Boston Marathon finish line alone Monday morning, checked her phone and thought to herself, "I’m an idiot.”

Devers, a 30-something nurse anesthetist at Massachusetts General Hospital, thought she had mapped everything out perfectly for her debut marathon. She had trained for five months leading up to the race’s postponement, the first in its 124-year history, and wasn’t ready to wait until the rescheduled date in September to cross the finish line.

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She had heard the requests to stay off the 26.2-mile course, but finishing that final stretch down Boylston Street was still on her mind. So, she got creative.

Using a fitness app called Strava, Devers designed a roughly 8-mile route that began in Boston Common and circled through the streets of the Back Bay. The circuitous path ended at the marathon’s finish line and would spell out "Boston Strong,” in her app’s GPS.

Well, that was the plan at least. Once Devers checked her phone, she realized she had made a mistake: The “N” in "Strong” was missing.

“Boston Strog,” Devers laughed. “I’m an idiot.”

This shows Lindsay Devers's running route, as recorded by the fitness app Strava, on Monday, the day the Boston Marathon was originally scheduled.
This shows Lindsay Devers's running route, as recorded by the fitness app Strava, on Monday, the day the Boston Marathon was originally scheduled.Lindsay Devers

Starting at 5:20 a.m. Monday morning, Devers ran her custom course three times in order to reach 26.2 miles. She wore a hydration backpack loaded with water, Gatorade, energy chews, and a quarter-zip jacket in case she got cold.

Upon crossing the finish line shortly after 9:30 a.m. — with “This is Me” from “The Greatest Showman” soundtrack blasting in her headphones — Devers raised her arms and let out a cry.

“It felt amazing,” she said. “It feels amazing on a different level because you don’t have anybody cheering for you, you don’t have the support of volunteers. You’re out there carrying your own water, carrying your own gels.

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"It’s all you and your own mental fortitude to push through. No one’s running with you, no one’s cheering you on. It’s all in your head to keep going.”

The small snafu didn’t detract from her morning, which began at 4 a.m. with a cup of coffee while watching “Boston: The Documentary.” Devers was proud of her accomplishment, even if her finish wasn’t official.

In fact, Devers doesn’t know whether she ran 26.2 or 28.8 miles. Her two tracking devices were displaying different distances, so she ran until both read at least 26.2.

“I wanted to make sure I got the whole distance in,” she said. ”The first 10 miles, I was like, ‘Oh, this is great,’ and I was feeling it. Then, it got to a point — maybe around Mile 15 — I was like, ‘Why am I doing this?’

“Then I got to Mile 20 and I was OK. Then, I saw the differences in my GPSes and I was like, 'Oh my God, I have to run maybe 2 more extra miles."

Devers plans to run the Boston Marathon in September as a member of the fund-raising team for Dream Big, a local nonprofit that provides sporting equipment and mentorship to low-income families in the Boston community.

“It’s a battle with yourself,” she said. “There are times where I felt, you know, no one would know if I stopped except for me. And that’s what matters.”

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Some people ran across the Boston Marathon finish line on Boylston Street on Monday, but it was uncertain if they had run the entire route.
Some people ran across the Boston Marathon finish line on Boylston Street on Monday, but it was uncertain if they had run the entire route.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff