Julie Mills of Champaign and 38 other Boston Marathoners who weren’t able to finish April’s marathon got to run down the straightaway at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and cross the brick finish line Monday, shortly before the start of the Indy 500.
The runners received tickets to the race, parking on the infield behind the Tower Terrace grandstand and passes to the pits. The runners walked the race’s red carpet that morning, along with other VIPs.
About 10 minutes before the start of the race, the runners ran down the straightaway from the fourth turn to cross the bricks, all of them wearing their Boston shirts or jackets and a couple of them carrying American flags. Their friends and family stood on the track at the finish to greet them.
I was already planning to attend the race on Monday and had invited Julie to come with me. Then she received the email from the Speedway officials a week ago about the opportunity to run at the Indy 500.
I feel so lucky to have been there to watch my friend cross the finish line at Indy, to make up for the one she didn’t get to cross at Boston. All the runners seemed moved by the experience, and so did the crowd. A number of people congratulated Julie during the day when they saw her in her Boston jacket.
Typically modest, Julie said she felt like she didn’t do anything to deserve the attention, other than not finish the race at Boston. But as one runner pointed out, the run was not just to allow the marathoners to cross a very famous finish line, but also to remember the bombing victims.
Photos: Top: The Boston Marathoners before their run on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at the Indy 500. Bottom: The runners about the cross the brick finish line at the Indy 500.