American spirit lives in virtual Boston Marathon  

Courtesy photoBoston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray crosses the virtual Boston Marathon finish line in front of his home in North Andover, while his two children hold up the tape. 

The idea, when first tossed around by the Boston Athletic Association’s Chief Executive Officer Thomas Grilk, sounded so un-Boston Marathon like.

Originally, Grilk announced that the Boston Marathon would be postponed from April to September. Then, by late May, it was changed completely.

Grilk announced that the real race wasn’t going to happen in September either and it would be replaced by a “Virtual Boston Marathon.”

My initial thoughts: Bad idea. Won’t work. Just cancel the race and figure out some sort of fund-raiser.

It didn’t take long for me to be proven wrong back in late May — a few hours after talking to Grilk.

Now, nearly four months later, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Grilk and the BAA created a gem.

Remember the 2013 Boston Marathon, the bombs and the scary aftermath? What did everyone do?

They wrote books. They made movies. They inspired us. And they came back even stronger, and “Boston Strong” was born.

Which brings us to the last two weeks, the scheduled time those who wanted to participate in the virtual race, could. And they did.

As you’ll see from the accompanying stories, the virtual Boston Marathon was as inspiring as the “real” one.

I couldn’t think of a better representation of who we are as a nation and people, particularly us cold-hearted people from Greater Boston, than the people who decided to run the 26.2 miles without the regular hoopla.

The stories are good. As are the people who told them.

A Haverhill police lieutenant only trained six weeks before running. She realized it was the right thing to do, as crazy as it was. And along the way, her co-workers (Haverhill cops) made sure to drive by her several times offering support.

I can think of one word to describe her story and others: America.

It’s easy to complain. It’s hard to run a marathon with very few people watching.

But then we realize when those people that do watch, that do cheer, that do ride a bike to make sure all is good, that it only takes a few people to make this event what it really is:

The real deal.

To all those who ran, many for charities, thanks for your efforts. It was noticed.

You can email Bill Burt at


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