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Peg McEntee: Salt Lake marathoners outrun rain and gloomy week

Published April 20, 2013 2:23 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

It was as if the rain washed everything clean.

After the intensity of Boston's deadly manhunt for the killers of three people in a bomb attack that left 180 wounded during the Boston Marathon, Utah runners lit out early Saturday for their own race.

Common themes on T-shirts: "4-15-13 Boston" and "Run for Boston."

The storm broke not long after the Salt Lake City Marathon began, drenching contestants and those of us watching. The night before, we were mesmerized by news coverage of the hunt for the last bombing suspect, who was found in a boat and taken down by police.

By morning, though, it was a pleasure just to see those strong, self-assured runners and their various costumes. One guy wore a kilt and carried an American flag. Another's T-shirt proclaimed, "I smoke weed every day."

Two women jogged by, speaking in sign language. A gaggle of friends displayed matching mohawks.

Among the runners were clients of Odyssey House, a drug and alcohol treatment center in Salt Lake City. About 30 people had signed up to train for the race, but most dropped out, said Shelly Guillory, a nurse at the center.

But 13 people stuck with it, and Guillory waved them along, one by one, and stayed awhile for the lone straggler. Most had never made a commitment before, but this time they had, and Guillory was proud.

Down at Liberty Park, the rain was falling steadily and we all got colder and wetter. But we stuck it out, watching the half-marathoners arriving at the finish line. Some looked as if they'd run maybe a block; others were tapped out and halting but clearly intent on crossing the line.

Then one of the full-marathoners blew by, escorted by a motorcycle cop. I don't know if he was the winner, but he sure looked like one.

I must mention the shoes. They were every conceivable color, some not found in nature — brilliant reddish-orange, electric green and psychedelic yellow. (Just watching them flash by made me feel a little psychedelic, too.)

By midmorning, the swarm of runners thinned out. Finishers found friends, families and umbrellas. People started drifting over to the fair in the middle of the park. I headed out.

Back in Boston, people celebrated into the night Friday, even as they remembered the dead and wounded, some of them marathoners who lost their legs. We here in Salt Lake City know the feeling; few of us will ever forget the 2007 Trolley Square murders.

So on Saturday, our marathoners and those of us watching found common cause with Bostonians. We know about shock and sorrow, but we also know that time is a healer.

One day, there may even be room for mercy, which, as Shakespeare wrote, "droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven."

Peg McEntee is a news columnist. Reach her at pegmcentee@sltrib.com, facebook.com/pegmcentee and Twitter, @Peg McEntee.