"The Boston Marathon is America’s iconic race, the oldest marathon in the country, and the most important. Eighteen people ran it in 1897; last year, thirty-five thousand did."
Thompson, who has completed the race twice, walks us through its scenic path from the start in Hopkinton, "a town so far out on the Massachusetts Turnpike that it seems like it must be farmland," up and down its punishing hills, past Fenway Park, to its conclusion "in beautiful downtown Boston. Copley Square. Newbury Street. Trinity Church."
"There’s something particularly devastating about an attack on a marathon. It’s an epic event in which men and women appear almost superhuman. The winning men run for hours at a pace even normal fit people can only hold in a sprint. But it’s also so ordinary. It’s not held in a stadium or on a track. It’s held in the same streets everyone drives on and walks down. An attack on a marathon is, in some ways, more devastating than an attack on a stadium; you’re hitting something special but also something very quotidian."