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Running for Boston

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

BOSTON — The refrain sounds similar from year to year.

“Amazing.” “Once in a lifetime.” “Words can’t describe.”

The Boston Marathon — and its 26.2-mile trek from Hopkinton, Mass. into Boston — is one of a kind.

Each April, a group of about 30 runners band together to represent the Boston Bruins Foundation on the marathon route, proudly wearing the Spoked-B.

Some runners lace them up year after year. Others, like Shannon Crane, a Premium Client Service Representative at TD Garden, are first-timers.

“That was definitely a once in lifetime thing,” Crane burst out after crossing the famed finish line on Boylston Street in Boston and making her way through the crowd of thousands to find her family members.

“It was awesome, it was really great. “Go Bruins!” the entire way!” she smiled, basking in the sunlight of a 50-degree day. “Perfect day, perfect weather. No other race like this one, and no other city like this one. It was amazing. It was absolutely amazing.”

The 120th running of the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 18, 2016 — Patriots’ Day in Boston — may be Crane’s first and last foray into the run, but she and 30,000 other runners will always have that day, and that accomplishment of making it over the finish line. No one can take that from them.

No one can take away the hundreds of thousands of on-lookers, supporters and cheerleaders along the route, or that ounce of extra mental effort it takes to will yourself to the end.

“The finish was really hard. The last three miles were really — you have to dig deep,” said Crane. “But the fans and all of the people out there — it was really tough — the fans really motivated you to push through and finish.”

Runners often wear their names on the fronts of their shirts, along with their numbers. Spectators call them out, and cheer them on.

Crane decided instead to let the Spoked-B on the front of her jersey be her identity.

“The support from the organization was incredible,” said Crane. “We all raised a lot of money it was really incredible.”

The Boston Bruins Foundation Team together raised more than $170,000 for charity.

“The support that they've provided us throughout this entire process really made it a lot easier, especially for someone who had never run a marathon before and was really nervous,” said Crane. “Just, the support from the Bruins Foundation was absolutely incredible. It was wonderful. I wouldn't want to do it with another team.”

Along the way, Crane received plenty of support and cheers — and “Go Bruins!” chants.

She may have been representing the Black & Gold, but the beauty of the Boston Marathon is that she was also representing something much larger than herself. The Mass. native placed herself in the company of those who ran the marathon 120 years ago, of those who flocked from all over the world, of those who slipped on their running shoes, and ran for Boston.

“Boston Strong” still decorates the route, with the city’s “One Boston Day” to celebrate kindness having taken place a few days prior to the Marathon.

The tears that welled up in Shannon Crane’s eyes as she spoke about the last four hours of her life were evidence of that pride in Boston, that memory of 2013, and that sense of being a part of something special.

It’s remarkable, when taking a scan of the diverse runners, how many different charities, organizations and affiliates were represented.

Crane, along with his 29 other Boston Bruins Foundation teammates, was glad she could spread the Black & Gold pride — and as it turns out, that sense of pride is what kept her going during the tough moments.

“I think right around Heartbreak Hill, I was about to walk,” Crane said, reflecting on a time along the route that stood out the most to her. “I was doing well the entire time and I was just breaking down right there, and right as I was about to start to walk down, this guy just leans over the railing, he looks me right in the eye and says, ‘Hey! Go. B’s!’ “

“I was just like ‘Ahh, I can't walk now, I can't let this fan down!’ And I just kept on going, and kind of from that point on, I'm like, ‘If I didn't walk right there, I'm not going to walk the rest of it.’”

Energy still exuded from Crane, like it did for the countless other runners who walked around her, draped in their Boston Marathon post-race blankets.

“It was just amazing to have someone get right in your face and be like, ‘You can do this, let's go!’ It was awesome.”

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