Marcos Bretón

Marcos Breton: Sacramento runners did our city proud at the Boston Marathon

Befitting a vibrant community of runners, Sacramento was well represented at the Boston Marathon.

Monday’s race was special, of course, as America paused to celebrate the first Boston Marathon since last year’s tragic bombing at the course finish line.

In a sense, we all became Bostonians as the stories of the victims, the first responders and the selfless acts of heroism became a symbols of an enduring American event that would go on again this year – no matter what.

On Monday, more than 35,000 runners toed the start line, with roughly 100 from the Sacramento region.

“It was a bittersweet day, very emotional,” said 50-year-old Jenny Hitchings, a longtime runner, whose race on Monday capped a long comeback from injuries and pain. Though she had run the Boston Marathon before, Hitchings had not been in Boston last year because she was recuperating from Achilles surgery.

She has run faster than her Monday time of 2:58:38. Boston’s brutal hills took their toll.

Still, finishing a marathon in less than three hours is a massive achievement for anyone. It’s a testament to countless hours of hard training – often before dawn, or after work, in the hot Sacramento sun, in fog and in rain – all the times when normal people are relaxing indoors.

But for Hitchings to finish the race in less than three hours in Boston on Monday? That landed her second place in her age group of women between 50 and 54. That means a coveted crystal trophy from the organizers of the most famous marathon in the world.

It means that Hitchings is back. The pain in her leg is no longer there – replaced by that life-affirming feeling of strength that comes when your fitness, your training and your preparation are all working.

There is nothing like it.

“I feel honored and blessed to be here,” Hitchings said by phone from Boston on Tuesday before coming home.

Another Sacramento runner, 53-year-old Iain Mickle, finished third in his age group of men from 50-54. With a time of 2:38:38, Mickle was runner No. 281 to cross the finish line – quite an achievement considering how many runners entered.

While the events leading up to this year’s race were somber, Hitchings said the event was joyous.

“Everyone ran their hearts out,” Hitchings said.

It’s what runners do, and Sacramento has become one of the premier running communities in America because of its climate, its physical beauty – and a community of runners who embody the best spirit of this region.

“It’s a great feeling to know you’ve worked so hard … When you toe the start line, you’re super proud of yourself.” Hitchings said.

An entire community is proud, too.