More than nine hours after the last wave of Boston Marathon runners began their 26.2-mile journey in Hopkinton on Monday morning, a young man stood at the finish line on Boylston Street.
Nearly all of the 33,000-plus participants were already long gone, having crossed the finish line and received their medals much earlier in the day. The lively pedestrians lining the street with cowbells and clever signs were also gone, as were most of the race officials and volunteers.
But the man, wearing a white hoodie and a backward snapback, patiently stood with his hands in his pockets. Every so often, he’d look into the distance before glancing back down at his phone or pacing an area that was strewn with Dunkin’ cups and other litter.
It was clear he was waiting for something — or someone.
When asked what was keeping him there, with the temperature dropping and the wind gusts picking up, he proudly replied: “My mom.”
His mother, Red Hilton, was running her first — and, according to him, her last — marathon.
Hilton’s son continued to wait while a crew of workers began the three-day cleanup process by loading the steel barricades used for crowd control into a truck. A number of police officers patrolled the area, recalling previous years in which runners crossed the finish line well after midnight.
Things wouldn’t last that long this time around.
Around 8 p.m., a spotter for the Boston Athletic Association arrived on his bike to announce that Hilton was about two blocks away. Sure enough, the 46-year-old woman from East Bridgewater, who has worked as a realtor in Boston for more than a decade, soon made her way across the finish line into the arms of her son.
The pair shared a long embrace under the bright lights.
Upon receiving her medal, Hilton teared up. She said there were moments throughout her arduous, albeit rewarding journey that she didn’t think she was going to make it.
She had trained for the big day, including completing the BAA 5K on Saturday, but the uncooperative weather made things particularly challenging.
Whenever doubts crept into her mind, however, she said she kept telling herself, “I didn’t come this far to come this far.
“The time will never matter,” she said. “It’s the fact that I finished.”
As part of the Boston Medical Center’s team, Hilton raised more than $6,000 in the months leading up to the marathon. She said she was inspired to run the race because she wanted to be “a part of something bigger than [herself].”
After accomplishing her goal, she said she planned to relax with her feet up.
“It’s over,” she said. “It’s done. I can cry now.”