POSTED: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 5:00am
UPDATED: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 5:04am
Boston, MA (NBC33) — Among the 31,805 runners who crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon , about two dozen traveled from Baton Rouge.
Some ran Boston for the first time, while others returned to the site of the tragedy.
"It is a fantastic race, and emotions today were so high out here, with the volunteers, it was a fantastic day," said Kim Dominick, who ran her fifth Boston Marathon.
Varsity Sports had 27 runners represent the club in Boston this year. The club had a similar contingent in 2013, when a pair of explosions near the finish line resulted in four deaths, hundreds of injuries, and the cancelation of the remainder of the race.
"As we were running today, even the volunteers and spectators would thank you, 'thank y'all for coming back, thank you for being here this year,'" Dominick mentioned.
"Every single runner, I can promise you, they'll tell you, we all felt like celebrities out there," added Michael Edmonson. Jr. "And it was just such a fun, fun experience. So many people getting so excited about this event."
The crowd, more than a million deep, showed the racers love at every turn.
"All along the course, they were standing," Dominick said. "A lot today was, 'Go USA! Go USA!' And then our Varsity Sports shirts have Louisiana on them, so they were hollering, 'Go Varsity Sports! Go Louisiana!' They, the spectators and stuff, make it personal, they holler out your name. You can't help but notice them. It's a great way to keep your mind on the race, but enjoy it at the same time."
Last year's bombing changed the way people think about outdoor sporting events. But there was never a fear of a repeat attack from the Varsity Sports team.
"None, whatsoever," Dominick stated. "I was here last year, and the way that the city and the police, the firemen responded to everything last year, I did not feel that there would be any worry coming back this year."
"There's always that sense of nervousness," Edmonson stated. "But I'll tell you, everybody out there, their excitement, and you just knew that everybody was there for you if anything was to happen.
"You'd be running at any of the mile markers, and along the whole 26.2 mile course, there were so many people, so excited, and you just knew that if anything was to happen that you were going to be all right and people were going to be there to help you as much as they could, and it was all going to be fine."
Edmonson's family made the trip to cheer him on. But it was also a business trip for his father, Col. Mike Edmonson, Superintendent of the Louisiana State Police. He met with Governor Deval Patrick, Massachusetts State Police Supt. Col. Tim Alben, and other local and federal law enforcement officials. He said he learned a lot from talking with them and examining the way they ensured the security of all involved.
"High degree of professionalism," Col. Edmonson noted. "A lot of pre-planning, a lot of working together, a lot of partnerships that are important to us in law enforcement in Louisiana. I saw it first-hand. And so from a cop's perspective, I'd give them an A+."
While the runners did not worry about their safety, the gravity of last year's attack was palpable.
"Emotion's been going on since the sun rose [Friday] morning," Edmonson Jr. said a few hours after crossing the finish line. "I mean, the amount of people out there has been incredible."
"Along the course, it was very emotional," Dominick agreed. "people would hold up the American flag and holler, "go USA!' And then when you turned to come down down Boylston (St.), where the bombs went off last year, it was very emotional. I don't imagine anybody could have run that stretch without feeling very emotional."
Edmonson Jr. finished the race in 3:00:57. Dominick crossed the line in 3:37:02. Both of their times would likely qualify them for the 2015 Boston Marathon, and each seemed likely to enter again.
"This race is so important to the city and the people here, and it's just such an honor to be a part of it," Dominick said.
Team Varsity Sports had another good showing this year. The men finished in 17th place out of 83 teams in the Open division, and the women finished 15th out of 69 teams.