Utah runner Cory Walker Maxfield could not hear the rock music on her iPod from the start of the Boston Marathon to finish; the cheering from the sidelines was simply too loud.
Maxfield, from Holladay, was caught between both pressure-cooker bombs at last year’s marathon. The deadly attack — which claimed three lives and wounded hundreds — ruined what she had planned to be her last go at the famous race. So Maxfield, along with other Utah runners, returned to Boston this year in defiance of fear and to celebrate her beloved sport. And this time, she finished the race happy and victorious.
“I had a fun, good run today and am grateful to be back,” she said. “I feel triumphant and the city of Boston came out, bigger than ever, to cheer on the racers. It was an amazing experience.”
Based upon finish times, about 50 Utah runners were in the vicinity of the finish line last year when the blasts went off, either just finishing or nearing the race’s conclusion. In all, there were 354 Utahns at the marathon.
Under heavy security that included a battery of surveillance cameras and police officers on rooftops, nearly 36,000 runners hit the streets Monday. “Boston Strong” — the unofficial slogan adopted after the terrorist attack — was everywhere.
At 2:49 p.m., the time the bombs went off, spectators observed a moment of silence at the finish line. It was followed by some of the loudest cheers of the day as people whooped, clapped and rang cowbells.
“You just feel like a rock star, like a hero,” Maxfield said.
She arrived Saturday, “nervous and anxious and very emotional,” and stood where she was on Boylston Street, when the bombs exploded.
“It all kind of culminated,” she said. “I let that experience wash over me.”
With that moment now behind her, she was able to enjoy the marathon without last year’s baggage. She even beat her time from the 2013 marathon by about three minutes, crossing the finish line at 4:06:30.
By late afternoon, as other runners continued to drag themselves across the finish line more than six hours into the race, state emergency officials reported no security threats, other than some unattended bags.
In what some saw as altogether fitting, Meb Keflezighi, a 38-year-old U.S. citizen who came to this country from Eritrea as a boy, became the first American in 31 years to win the men’s race.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 20, is awaiting trial in 2013 attack and could get the death penalty. Prosecutors said he and his older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, came to the U.S. from Russia more than a decade ago and carried out the attack in retaliation for U.S. wars in Muslim lands.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev died in a shootout with police days after the bombings.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.