The sun started to slow her down a bit at the 10-mile mark, but 26.2 miles of cheering supporters drove Los Altos Hills resident Chandra Ramamoorthy to finish the 2014 Boston Marathon in just over four hours.
Although her time was nearly two hours slower than the top women’s finisher, Ramamoorthy felt like a winner.
“It was just amazing – I’ve never seen a crowd like that,” said Ramamoorthy of the spectators and the estimated 36,000 other runners from across the globe at the April 21 event. “It was our moment to be superstars.”
This wasn’t Ramamoorthy’s first attempt to finish the Boston Marathon. After missing the deadline for registering in 2011 and falling ill to the flu just before the 2012 race, Ramamoorthy was diverted from the race course at mile 25 in 2013 after two homemade bombs exploded near the finish line.
Undeterred by last year’s act of terrorism, she returned this year feeling even more confident that she’d finally be able to cross the finish line – and cross the endeavor off her bucket list.
“If you’re put off by adversity, you can’t overcome obstacles,” she said.
Ramamoorthy and three teammates from the Tattersols, a Peninsula-based women’s running and racing team, performed well enough to place 69th in the Women’s Open Team division of the marathon.
Completing the course
According to the Boston Athletic Association’s race results website, 11 Los Altos and Los Altos Hills residents finished this year’s Boston Marathon. The runners the Town Crier interviewed expressed their gratitude for the show of support they received from spectators, police and other athletes.
“If you haven’t done Boston before, you’d be really surprised,” said three-time Boston Marathon finisher Mike Grimm of Los Altos Hills. “There was a lot of reflection on the spirit of Boston and the strength of all the American people.”
Although Grimm is a longtime ultramarathon runner, participating in this year’s Boston Marathon wasn’t as much about showcasing his athletic prowess as celebrating the resiliency of the American spirit. In one of the last qualifying races of the season, Grimm secured a spot in the marathon in October.
A pre-marathon visit to the memorial near the finish line served as a sobering reminder of why he was there. The opportunity to meet Meb Keflezighi the night before he became the first American since 1983 to win the Boston Marathon proved a trip highlight for Grimm matched only by the race experience itself.
“Even though you’re kind of of alone, you’re not really alone,” said Grimm of the race’s sense of community.
A family affair
Melissa Wardlaw of Los Altos hit the pavement for her second Boston Marathon last week and said she couldn’t have felt any safer or more secure.
“It was really important for (Boston) to show that they could put on a marathon and everyone could have a good time and feel safe,” she said. “I don’t think they could have done a better job.”
Wardlaw had no second thoughts about participating in this year’s race following last year’s tragedy. Although she’s competed in 14 previous marathons, this year’s event was particularly special. As she moved between miles 20 and 21 of the race, her 6-year-old daughter, husband and extended family waved from Heartbreak Hill – all the motivation she needed to finish the course.
“It’s really an honor to have the people you love do this for you,” Wardlaw said. “Part of the reason I run is that I make it into family affair.”
Olympian for a day
The journey to the Boston Marathon began more than three years ago for Los Altos Hills resident Beatrice Fu. She missed the qualifying time for her division by 62 seconds in her first attempt, but persevered through a rainstorm last year to secure eligibility for this year’s race.
For the past four months, Fu skipped opportunities to ski in an effort to prevent injury and spent countless hours training at Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve in preparation for the biggest race of her life.
“For an average person to be able to run the Boston, it’s a big deal,” she said.
The cheering crowds and bounty of thank-yous that met her at every turn of the course were unexpected sources of encouragement to Fu.
Running behind Joan Benoit Samuelson, the winner of the women’s ages 55-59 division, was inspirational for Fu, who remembers watching Samuelson when she won a gold medal for track at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
Greeting her husband and sons at the finish line was a climactic finish to Fu’s long-term journey to the Boston Marathon, even if the rewards aren’t immediate.
“I won’t win anything, but it was an honor to participate,” she said.