The Marathon Scarf Project

Many runners were given unique blue and yellow scarves before the Boston Marathon.

In addition to race jackets, hats, shirts and every make and model of running shoe imaginable, many 2014 Boston Marathon runners were sporting a new accessory—handmade scarves. It’s not that it’s unusually cold in Boston. More than warmth, the scarves provide comfort, unity and remembrance. And these priceless mementoes are free.

In February, the Old South Knitters Club of the Old South Church on Boylston Street hatched the idea for the Marathon Scarf Project. The thought was to wrap runners in marathon blue and yellow scarves knitted with love and courage. The group’s goal was to knit a few hundred, but the project went viral, and by race weekend they had more than 7,000 scarves handmade by knitters across the country and around the world.

Some pieces were knitted, some were sewn and some have images. There were as many patterns as artists. But they were all crafted by hand and came with a tag including with the name of the artist and where they were made.

During marathon weekend, church volunteers laden with scarves stood in front of Old South Church, just past the finish line, and one by one bestowed racers with the scarf of their choice and a blessing. Much as the project went viral with knitters, so too did it with runners. Many runners showed their race bibs for proof that they were running, but those who did the gifting took it on faith that they were going to the right people.

Some recipients were silent and reverent when they receive their scarf, others gave a hug of thanks and many share tearful stories about the personal impact of the events of 2013. All left holding the unifying threads that reminded us that Boston runs strong and runs together

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