"For us, that finish line has become sacred ground," said an observer who shot a now-viral photo

By Alex Heigl
January 29, 2015 08:45 AM
Adam Reynolds/AP

Chris Laudani is 25 years old. He’s a Boxford, Massachusetts, native, and he’s run the Boston Marathon five times.

So during the snowstorm that pummeled the city this week, he took a shovel and cleared the snow away from the Marathon’s finish line, mid-blizzard.

Laudani, a bartender at the nearby Back Bay Social Club, told TODAY.com he simply “wanted to be able to see [the line] when I walked by because I love it so much.”

He didn’t realize that Phillip Hillman was watching him. The 44-year-old district manager for Rodney Strong Wine Estate was staying in a nearby hotel and noticed Laudani at work cleaning the finish line while he (Hillman) was taking a break from his own work. He snapped a picture and Tweeted it out.

“I thought it was a powerful image when I looked at it,” Hillman told TODAY.com. “I’ve been a resident of Massachusetts my whole life. For us, that finish line has become sacred ground. When I looked out there and saw that, I thought, ‘How cool is that?’

Laudani cleaned the line mid-blizzard, so naturally it was covered up relatively quickly. But others took to the streets to finish what he’d started.

“I had no idea it would affect people the way it has,” Hillman said of his initial picture. “I’m happy it has touched as many people as it did.”