The Starting Line

Crowd sizes were much smaller than usual this year at the starting line — but runners were trying to keep their spirits up anyway. Some even felt that the weather relieved a bit of the stress.

"I had some pressure about what time I was going to run, and now I know I'm not going to do that," said Taylor Days-Merrill, who was running his first Boston Marathon. He said his new goal was just to finish. 

Other runners were feeling a little less positive.

"I am freezing," Cedric Hernandez said from the sidelines, right before starting the race. "I'm from New York, and I was thinking, 'This is probably why we have a love-hate relationship with Boston, because you guys would do this to us.'" 

Hernandez said he had never done a run like this in such tough conditions. But he hoped it could actually work to his advantage.

"I think that I'm going to still do it pretty fast, because I want to get it done as soon as possible," he said, laughing.

Between the small crowds, steady rain, and chilly conditions, it was certainly a unique start to the 122nd Boston Marathon.

Crowds steadied themselves against the weather to line the marathon route.
Meredith Nierman / WGBH News

The Midpoint

But, of course, the Boston Marathon is all about tradition, and despite the unusual conditions, some things remained the same. As always, outside Wellesley College, students gathered in force, where the famed “scream tunnel” was in full effect.

Thousands of runners — in pairs and packs — steadily pressed rubber to road in a remarkable — albeit “sloshier” than usual — symphony of strides.

And just outside the race midpoint, father and daughter Jay and Bonnie Delaune were there to cheer them all on.

"We’ve done this run for 20 years," said Jay Delaune.

"By done this run, he means we’ve cheered on runners," his daughter corrected. "We have never run it ourselves, but we’ve come since I was a little girl."

In the slashing rain they stood, doing what they say is their part in this remarkable yearly ritual — a jolt of encouragement and energy for the runners as they near the halfway point.

"He likes to say the sun's coming out soon, which – we’ve seen the forecast, it’s not," said Bonnie.

"But it brings out the smile every time you say it," Jay added, before once again shouting his catchphrase to a passing runner.

"We say, 'Welcome to the downhill!'" Bonnie yelled out. "Because we know they’re only heading into worst uphills,” she said. “Heartbreak Hill is ahead."

"This is a brutal run. They’re not even halfway yet," added Jay.

Indeed, from here there are more than 13 wet rainy miles to go before the finish line. 

Hundreds of volunteers welcome and assist runners after they cross the finish line.
Meredith Nierman / WGBH News

The Finish Line 

Getting here was more difficult than many of the runners could have imagined. 

This was runner Mary Kate Shay’s 22nd Boston Marathon, and she said it was among the toughest. 

"There were torrential downpours, wind," she said, as rain dripped from her hat and clothes. "But what was amazing was whenever the rain picked up or the wind picked up, every runner, the whole group would start cheering. So, when it got nasty, everyone’s like, 'Woohoo! We can do this. We can do this. This is Boston.'"  

Many in the crowd at the finish line felt the same way. 

"My shoes are soaked, my hands are soaked, but I’m dancing in the rain,”  said Jacqueline Turner, wearing a bright orange poncho.