It’s dusk on a chilly Wednesday evening on Boylston Street, but the energy inside the Marathon Sports store is palpable.
Runners sporting neon sneakers and big smiles greet each other, catch up and put on reflective vests. Their positive energy is in stark contrast to the chaos of nearly one year ago, when, right in front of the store, the first bomb exploded. Now there isn’t a single sign of that destruction. Marketing manager Dan Soleau was in front of the store when the bombs went off. He wasn’t seriously injured physically, but he’s still healing emotionally.
“It took me a long time to personally, sort of, make a turn emotionally where I was in a place where I didn’t feel so beaten down, and so sad and depressed, and so useless all the time,” Soleau said.
A marathon runner himself, Soleau is running the race this year, but not without trepidation.
“I’m going to be terrified," he said. "And I get that.”
But Soleau will have support that day from 50 fellow runners on the One Fund Team, a group raising money for the fund started after the bombing to help its victims. Team member Jon Masters fell short of qualifying several times. Now, he’s got an official bib.
'It's almost like running the first marathon because you've got this feeling inside you that this one really matters.'
“I thought I had missed out on running this year," Masters said. "Then Dan sent around an email saying they’re looking for runners for the One Fund. And I was like, this is perfect, because that’s why I want to run anyway.”
Masters joins his One Fund teammates on Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings to train.
“It’s almost like running the first marathon because you’ve got this feeling inside you that this one really matters," he said. The others — I guess I could bail, I never would bail. This one it just feels really special, it is going to be really special. Certainly there’ll be some nerves and apprehension on the day.”
Team member Cecille Avila says it was nerves and apprehension that got her thinking about running. Until recently, she worked in the Boston Globe photography department. She says running this year’s race will help ease what she saw at work, over and over again.
“All of those images are always going to be in my head and I want to make sure that it goes toward something good, that these people won’t ever be forgotten," Avila said. "So I’m running for the One Fund because it’s a way for me to help other people.”
Avila says this may not be her first marathon, but it will certainly be the most memorable.
“It’s my fourth," she said. "But it’s the first time I’m running Boston and I’m really excited because I’ve always wanted to run this race. So running it this year is particularly incredible and I’m really honored to be part of this team.”
The runners say they hope the race feels cathartic. For now, their emotion feeds into a buzzing, almost giddy energy as they run into the night and prepare for what may be the most significant Boston Marathon in its history.
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