When I was growing up in Newton, Massachusetts, my family would always watch the Boston Marathon from the same spot. It was only a few blocks from my house to the intersection of Centre Street and Commonwealth Avenue, six miles from the finish line at Copley Square.
I hesitate to call it a sacred experience, but there was unquestionably a kind of reverence in witnessing the marathon. None of us could understand how human beings could run that far that fast, much less conquer those agonizing hills in even the most advanced wheelchair. No amount of repetition could reduce the sense of awe. Race after race, the spectators marveled and shouted their encouragement. The children would strain their arms holding out paper cones of cool water, hoping a top runner would grab it on the way to breaking the tape.