It was 5:47 p.m. when Paul Moffi crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon Monday. Late afternoon, almost evening of a race that started in the morning. The winners already had returned to their hotels, showered, been drug-tested, and debriefed by the media when Moffi was just digging into the race. He had miles to go.
The rain, which had driven down relentlessly during the trip from Hopkinton to Boston, let up for a half-hour about 5 p.m., then began to come down hard again as Moffi and the last of his fellow runners ran, walked, and scrambled down Boylston Street.
Moffi was still running, if slowly and with a slight limp, but he ran up to the finish line and stopped in triumph, immediately surrounded by a pack of friends.
The Hopedale firefighter crossed the line in 6:37:50, one of the last runners to be clocked on the official timer before the clock was turned off. That put him 25,648th in a field of nearly 30,000 entrants.
“It was good, it was enjoyable,” said Moffi, rainwater dripping off his cap but a smile stuck on his face as he slowly moved down the street to where he would get his medal.
He thought again. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done but it was the greatest accomplishment I think I’ll ever feel.’’
The weather — wet, cold, windy, miserable — prompted BAA officials to let Wave 4, the slowest runners assigned to the final wave to leave Hopkinton on the heels of Wave 3. The race has a six-hour limit — after that the timing clock is turned off.
With the temperatures freezing and the wind whipping for the entire race, it was an endurance test, especially for the six-hour runners. It’s not that the weather deteriorated as the race progressed — it just never got any better.
Though last to cross, Moffi was a fitting representative for the Boston Marathon field. Like many of those in the last wave, Moffi was a charity runner, wearing a bright red T-shirt emblazoned with Michael’s Miracle Marathon team logo. As it turned out, the Hopedale fire department lieutenant was running for a friend.
“One of my best friends was diagnosed with brain cancer two years ago,’’ Moffi said. “He’s a role model of mine, [and] as he was declining in health, he wasn’t able to walk so I told him I’d run this marathon for him.’’
When he started this adventure, Moffi was not a runner. “Never ran in my life,’’ he said. But he trained for two months and resolved to make his way through the wind and rain that drenched the course.
“When the wind’s blowing at you, it really brings you down. But you push through it.’’ Moffi said.
Nonetheless, the details of his race were missing.
“It’s all a blur,’’ he said, as his friends swarmed around him, ready to take him home.
“But I will [do it again]. Now I know what I got myself into.’’