Big Sur International Marathon Responds to Events in Boston

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The Big Sur International Marathon has always been a celebration of running. But, this year, after the events of April 15 at the Boston Marathon, it also became a celebration of the irrepressible spirit of runners. The Race Director and Elite Director for the 28th Presentation of the Big Sur International Marathon held on April 28 were asked on several occasions if many people had dropped out as a result of Boston. The reality was just the opposite – more runners tried to get into the sold out race as a show of support for Boston.

All marathons tend to view Boston as their “Big Brother” and Big Sur is no different. In fact, Big Sur took it a step further. In 2010, they joined with Boston to form the Boston 2 Big Sur Event,which awards prizes based on the combined times of both marathons and is held either six or 13 days apart in April of each year.

The Boston tribute banner

After the tragic events of April 15, the Board of Directors of Big Sur looked for ways to pay tribute to their friends and colleagues in Boston and to honor those who were lost or injured near the finish line of the nation’s oldest marathon. They came up with three visible tributes.

The first was two 3 by 8 foot banners with the Big Sur logo and “4-15-13 RUNNERS UNITED” printed at the top center. The rest of each banner was filled up with heart-felt wishes from the thousands of runners who visited the Boston Tribute Booth at the Big Sur Expo on Friday and Saturday. The results were amazing as both sides of the two banners were completely filled and given to Boston Marathon’s Race Manager, Ron Kramer.

The second tribute was 150 Tribute Shirts with the same “4-15-13 RUNNERS UNITED” printed on the front. For a minimum $20 donation to the One Fund Boston, you received a shirt. They were gone in less than one hour.

Finally, Big Sur made 5,000 pins with the same “4-15-13 RUNNERS UNITED” logo. They were free to anyone who wanted one, but donations were accepted. The amount of people who made donations when taking a pin was close to 100 percent. The donations totaled over $10,000 from runners, family and friends who visited the Boston Tribute Booth.

In addition to these organized tributes, the personal tributes to Boston by the runners and spectators at the event were everywhere. The race announcers were wearing Red Sox hats that said “Boston Strong” on the back. Signs supporting Boston were seen virtually anywhere you looked in the crowd at the finish. And, thousands of runners wore something with Boston on it during the race.

As Boston Race Manager Ron Kramer so eloquently summed it up in an article published by The Monterey County Herald, “There’s a kindred spirit among runners, and I think that spills over to the spectators as well at an event like this one. The community is what makes an event like Boston or Big Sur.”

Perhaps some people think that who won the race is insignificant because of what happened in Boston. On the contrary, I believe that it is incredibly symbolic that both champions were repeat winners from 2012. Adam Roach and Nuta Olaru, who was 3rd place Master (over 40) at Boston, proved to the world that no matter how hard some may try, things with runners will some how stay the same.

This year marked the 117th running of the Boston Marathon and the 28th Presentation of the Big Sur International Marathon. As everyone proved at Big Sur, only 13 days after Boston, both marathons are here to stay and we can look forward to at least 117 more years of Boston 2 Big Sur.

Stephen L. Butler, Ed.D. is the Dean of Instructional Design and Technology at the United States Sports Academy and can be reached at sbutler @ussa.edu. Butler has also served as the Elite Director for the Big Sur International Marathon for the past 13 years.