Runners crossed the Boston Marathon finish line Monday afternoon limping, shivering, grimacing, and even weeping, looking like they had survived a tremendous physical ordeal — and, of course, they had.
But even with chill winds pummeling their exhausted bodies and rain soaking their clothing and shoes, a few managed to look nonchalant, even happy.
Brooke Adams, 29, smiled at the crowd lining Boylston Street and shouted, “I love you, Boston!”
“It was amazing! I am so impressed with the Bostonians. It doesn’t matter if it’s rain, hail, anything. They’re out there. The crowds were amazing,” she explained to a reporter. “I splashed in every puddle. It’s the best race ever. It doesn’t matter if it’s the worst weather in the world, Boston is still the best race ever.”
Adams, a veteran marathoner who had run Boston three times previously, said living and training in Buffalo, N.Y., helped prepare her for any kind of inclement weather.
“I just completed the world marathon majors, so this is my 15th marathon. I just did Tokyo in February, so this was a fun run,“ she said.
Adams said she just enjoyed herself and didn’t try to set a personal record. She picked up a few kisses from Wellesley students as she ran past the college’s campus, she said, and drew cheers from the crowd when she ripped off her rain poncho on Hereford Street and started pounding her chest.
“I loved it,” she said, though she admitted the weather had been rough. “You got started, and they said, ‘Downpour on mile 5.’ Yep! They were right! ‘Downpour at Heartbreak [Hill].’ It was! They were right on everything. But you’ve just got to suck it up. We’re all dealing with it.”
Richard Sun, 25, shared his achievement with friends on Instagram just feet past the finish line.
“I want to tell all my friends I just did it,“ said the runner, who is from China but now lives in London and was running Boston for the first time, though he has run eight other marathons.
“It’s really hard, but I finished it,“ he said. The weather was “terrible, to be honest,” he said, but he’s willing to consider coming back to run Boston again. “I need better weather,” he added.
Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans finished the Boston Marathon on Monday, calling the weather conditions, “the worst he has run in.”
Evan said the battering wind and rain were tough. He said it was the 53rd marathon he has run.
“I could not tie my shoes my hands were so cold and wet,” said Evans. “I asked a spectator to tie them.”
He said the crowds that braved the elements were “awesome.”
Chaiss Matthews, 23, of Houston, crossed the finish line with a wide grin and said it was an expression of relief as much as joy.
“It was brutal,“ she said. “But I’m so glad I did it. I wouldn’t change it.”
Monday was her first marathon in Boston, she said, but her third overall. Despite the rough conditions, she set a new personal record of 3 hours, 7 minutes.
“I was hoping to break 3 [hours], but considering the weather, I can’t complain,” she said. The worst part, she said, was “probably around mile 15, just knowing I had a long way to go.”
Matthews had no time to celebrate after the race. She was soon flying back home, where she is a medical student at the University of Texas, Houston, and has to work a 12-hour shift in a hospital on Tuesday.
“They might have to carry me around,” she said, “but I’ll be there.”
Brittany Kolb, a gold-lettered sign in one hand and an umbrella in the other, had both feet on a metal barrier as she called across the sea of shivering runners trudging across the finish line.
“Dad! Dad!” she screamed fruitlessly. And then, a look spread across her face signaling a revelation: There may be 500 dads within shouting distance.
“Stuart!!!” she yelled.
Within moments, a rain-soaked and smiling Stuart Kolb came bounding through the flow of finishers, quickly wrapping his family in a water-logged embrace.
On his 56th birthday, Stuart Kolb completed his 100th marathon. It’s not the only reason it will be memorable for the Green Bay, Wisc., native.
“This was the wettest,” said a man who knows a thing or two about marathons in Boston — where he’s run eight. “I’ve run in some wet marathons but never from start to finish with no breaks. It didn’t matter if it was a sprinkle or a driving rain, it never stopped.
“But,” Kolb said, “it was fun.”
The weather will undoubtedly emerge as the raining champion in the 122nd Boston Marathon. Hypothermia was a constant concern for runners and medical professionals alike, who watched thousands of hardened competitors cross the finish line soaked and in some cases, dazed by the perciptatory pounding they endured.
“I mean, it sucked. There was no way around it,” said Matthew Gonnella, a 25-year-old Suffolk Law student running his first Boston Marathon but fourth marathon overall. The first five miles were easy enough, he said, until a “switch flipped” in the clouds somewhere, unleashing torrents of rain.
“I’ve never run in anything like that before,” the Syracuse, NY, native said.
Elliot Norman, a 33-year-old London native now in Washington, DC, said the worst came in Framingham, where a “downpour” greeted runners.
But he said there was a silver lining to the gray day. “Fortunately it was kind of constant,” he said of the rain. “Once you were used to it, you were used to it.”
Norman, too, was dealing with other water problems. He said there were moments he had to stop himself from tearing up, when the emotions of running the race became too much.
“It was the best race,” he said, “and it was the worst race.”
Dr. Aaron Baggish, the marathon’s medical director, said by early afternoon, staff had already seen waves of hypothermia cases, marked by constant shivering and in some cases, an “altered” mental state from the cold.
“The minute these runners stop, their core temperature drops precipitously,” Baggish said, adding of the weather: “It’s an unbelievable day.”
Countless runners would agree, and perhaps for other, happier reasons.
“You guys host a hell of a run,” said Stuart Kolb, the birthday boy from Green Bay. “If you have better weather next year, maybe I’ll come back.”
Travis Andersen of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.