A little past midnight, after 24 days of hoofing across the U.S., a road relay benefiting the One Fund crossed the Boylston Street finish line.
Although five hours behind, One Run for Boston is tackling the long-awaited home stretch with energy and a camaraderie that's bolstered by a collective runner's high.
"It's sort of a big carnival," said Danny Bent, who is one-third of the British trio that organized the nation-wide run. "It's not only a celebration of running, but of human kindness. Thousands of people have touched that baton and left a little bit of their story on it. Hopefully the symbolism of the race is strong, and lasts longer than the money we’re able to raise."
Since leaving Los Angeles on June 7, the 14-state relay has drawn more than 1,500 participants and raised over $76,000. The biggest challenge, according to Bent, was unruly weather. Runners faced temperatures of 120 degrees in New Mexico, and storms, lightning and floods as they trekked east.
New Yorker Kathy Maurella ran a 9-mile leg from the Bronx Zoo to Central Park Saturday.
"It was amazing. I’ve run marathon and this one was just memorable," said Maurella. "(Saturday) was hot and humid but knowing what the runners did in New Mexico and Arizona, it was not that bad here."
The most memorable aspect of Saturday's group run was the camaraderie.
"All of a sudden seven or eight of you are out on the streets of Harlem and the Bronx, with people you’ve never met before. We had someone from Philly, another from New Mexico and Boston, and no one on the street really knows what you’re doing, but you know what you’re doing. It just feels like you’re part of something big," said Maurella.
Boston resident Meagan Bufano was at the Boylston Street finish line on April 15, so for her, running the last leg of the One Run has more purpose than any other run.
"It's a very emotional thing for me. I just wanted to go back and show the world that we’re not goingto let them win," said Bufano, who is set to arrive at Copley from Newton around 12:30 a.m.
Nearly 700 runners are expected to run alongside her, sending an undeniable message that Bufano stands behind: "We can’t be stopped."
One Run for Boston stats:
$76,347+ raised for The One Fund
1,940+ made donations
1,500+ ran altogether
650+ ran the Boston leg
3,300 - Total miles ran
The run spanned 14 states
The relay was broken up into 300 stages