Beantown had a bit of Rose City and Piney Woods flavor on Monday.
A number of runners with Tyler and East Texas ties ran in the 123rd Boston Marathon, the world's oldest and most prestigious annual marathon.
Andy Canales, a UT Tyler graduate and former Tylerite making his Boston debut, finished inside the top 1,000 runners in a field estimated at more than 30,000. He ran a consistent race and finished in 2 hours, 48 minutes and 38 seconds (6:26 pace) to place No. 949 overall. He ran the first half in 1:24:22 and kept up the pace to double that in the second half.
"The experience was everything you might hope it would be," Canales said. "Not just the race itself, but just the entire weekend surrounded by other runners who are there for the same reason. There’s so much positive energy in the air."
The run had a wet start, but it was not as cold as expected, with temperatures in the 60s as runners arrived instead of the 30s that were initially forecast. Temperatures at the start of the race were 30 degrees warmer than last year. Thunderstorms rolled through before the race but then conditions were favorable.
"It felt humid, but the temps in Texas have been much tougher for the past few weeks, which I think was a big advantage," the 27-year-old Canales said. "There were runners here who have not run in this warm of weather since last summer."
Canales relished Patriots' Day and the path through historic Boston.
"The course is a unique challenge in and of itself," he said. "Even the flatter sections have rolling hills. My plan was to stay within myself through the Newton hills and get to the top of Heartbreak (Hill) with enough in the tank to pick up the pace over the final 10K. I was fortunate that the race more or less played out just like that. I felt pretty OK throughout in terms of energy and my breathing. I started to cramp up quite a bit around mile 22, but I quickened my stride and that seemed to get my legs to respond."
Canales was pleased with his run.
"My goal was sub 2:50, so I couldn’t be happier with 2:48," Canales added. "It was thrilling to see my wife as I turned the corner on to Boylston and hammer to the finish. I can’t wait to come back and give it another go."
NASCAR Driver Jimmie Johnson runs
Still, it's the fastest Boston Marathon ever run by a Daytona 500 winner.
Michael Waltrip ran Boston in 2000 and finished in 4:42:20. (Jamie McMurray has run two marathons, with a personal record at the Kiawah Island Marathon in 3:14:06, but never Boston.)
So Johnson is pretty happy for his debut.
"Well, it's a PR," Johnson said. "So I'll take that."