Their race suddenly stopped, and unsure of what was happening, thousands of runners milled in confusion and anxiety a mile from the finish. Finally, Kevin Cummings, the BAA’s head of finish-line security, rolled up in a golf cart with colleague Ed Jacobs and announced an official stop to the race. Cummings, born in nearby Somerville, an organizer of sports festivals who had worked the race for 25 years, couldn’t quite believe what he was saying. For the first time in its history, the marathon that had soldiered on through snow and heat waves and two world wars was called off.
Cummings noticed something. “People helping other people,” he says. “Runners were thirsty, needed bathrooms.” There were no water stations or Port-A-Johns nearby. “But people were coming out of houses and businesses; if you look at the picture printed in sports illustrated, you’ll see someone from a restaurant coming with a crate full of water. You’ll see somebody else coming with a couple bottles, pouring water into cups. The help we were getting from outsiders was pretty inspiring.”