VIROQUA, Wis (WKBT) - Tens of thousands of runners took to the streets of Boston on Monday for the 118th Boston M.arathon.
The more than 26-mile journey started around 9:30 a.m. after a moment of silence to honor those killed and injured in the bombings last year.
One year after the Boston Marathon bombings, a local man is taking part in the race once again but not as runner. Ryan Callan of Coon Valley watched the race on his computer at work as a high school friend participated in the marathon for the first time.
Callan said he would have liked to be there in person to cheer her on, but he is doing the next best thing by virtually following her run online.
"It's a different kind of beast this one, it's a big deal," said Callan.
Last year, Callan participated in the marathon for the first time.
"One of the challenges there is it starts downhill, so it's tempting to go really fast from the start, but then you kind of get worn out later on," said Callan.
But this year he watched the race from a different vantage point, his computer.
"It was funny at the very beginning, because there was just a pile of these little legs and people were crammed together," said Callan.
About halfway through the race, Callan was able to follow his friend, Wendy Sorenson, online.
"We graduated from Central in '97 together," said Callan. "She is big into racing and she qualified a few years ago, but there were so many people signing up that she wasn't able to enter."
After Sorenson qualified to run this year, she immediately turned to Callan for advice.
"We have been emailing back and forth for the last week," said Callan. "I warned her that it is pretty tight and she can get caught up in the crowd, so if she had an ability to, hang back."
A magnetic strip allowed Callon to follow Sorenson on her 26.2-mile run through Boston.
"About every 3 miles, they kind of check in and show you where their time is at and what pace they are running," said Callan
Callan congratulated Sorenson via text Monday as soon as he saw her virtual runner cross the finish line.
"It may or may not be the best race she has ever had in her life, but it will always be one that she remembers," said Callan.
Sorenson finished the Boston Marathon in just over three hours and thirty minutes, which put her at about an eightminute mile.
Organizers said about 36,000 people participated in the marathon this year, making it the second largest field in the race's history. For the first time since 1983, the winner of the Boston Marathon is an American.
Meb Keflezighi, a 38-year-old immigrant from Eritrea, finished in just over two hours and eight minutes. The first woman to finish the race is 33-year-old Rita Jeptoo from Kenya who completed the race in two hours and 18 minutes.
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