Sights and sounds from ‘the race of all races’

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Four hours later, I’m still on cloud nine.

And it feels like I’m never going to come down from this runner’s high.

The 126th edition of the Boston Marathon was my seventh marathon, and I didn’t come close to a personal best time. My legs after Heartbreak Hill felt heavier than bricks, and I had some of the most painful blisters on my right foot. But it was the most fun I’ve ever had in a race.

And that’s because of the jubilant people from Hopkinton to Ashland to Framingham to Natick to Wellesley to Newton to Brookline and, of course, to Boston.

The 26.2-mile victory lap was the best party I’ve ever been invited to, as pumped up fans returned to the Boston Marathon course on Patriot’s Day for the first time in three years.

And because of that incredible energy, I made it. The crowds lining the course made me laugh and smile, distracted me from the pain, helping me make it down Beacon Street and all the way to Boylston Street where I got to see my wife, mom and friends, who gave me the biggest boost of all.

What. A. Day.

But enough about me. Here’s a snapshot of the best day of the year in the Boston area from other marathoners — from the bus out to Hopkinton to the emotions of finishing the journey later in the day.

The bus from Boston Common to Hopkinton

Nicole Pelletier said she was “weirdly calm right now” on the ride out to the start.

“But I know I’m going to cry when I cross the finish line,” the Boston teacher added. “I’ve wanted to do Boston forever.”

“I want to take it all in,” she said, adding that she was particularly excited for the Wellesley “scream tunnel.”

As the bus pulled off the highway to the Hopkinton exit, she said, “Now I’m getting really excited.”

In 2015, Pelletier started mentoring students in a marathon training program called Dreamfar.

She had been running the Providence Marathon every year, and then during the pandemic, she decided to start running multiple marathons a year. One of her goals is to run a marathon in every state.

Pelletier was running as a charity runner for Goodwill, raising money for youth programs in the Greater Boston area to help students with disabilities.

“With marathon running, I love the whole mentality of ‘I can do it,’ ” she said. “You can do anything you set your mind to.”

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