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10 years later, Boston magazine’s cover honoring marathon bombing victims gets an update

The magazine shared a design of two red shoes in a perfect heart, an homage to its 2013 cover after the Boston Marathon bombings.
/ Source: TODAY

Boston magazine is honoring the 10-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings with new art that pays homage to its April 2013 cover that featured hundreds of shoes from marathon runners.

For the April 2023 issue, Boston magazine commissioned artist Michael Rodriguez to create a design of two red sneakers in a perfect heart with the headline "10 years later, 10 years stronger."

"Paying tribute to the events of that day, while also referencing the photograph the magazine ran on its cover 10 years ago — I thought that was awesome," Rodriguez told the magazine. "The challenge was re-creating the design of a modern running shoe without covering it in brand identifiers."

Boston magazine's May 2013 cover featured more than 100 shoes collected from runners who had ran in the race that year, arranged in a heart with the headline, "We will finish the race."

Boston magazine reported their May 2013 issue was almost completely finalized when the bombings occurred on April 15, 2013, killing three people and injuring hundreds of others.

Boston magazine's April 2013 issue featured hundreds of sneakers from runners who ran the marathon.
Boston magazine's April 2013 issue featured hundreds of sneakers from runners who ran the marathon. Comrade/Boston Magazine

Though the issue had to be sent to the printer in three days, the team of editors and reporters decided they needed to scrap what they had and start from scratch.

According to staffers at Boston magazine, former deputy art director Liz Noftle first suggested "maybe there's something we can do with shoes," and former design director Brian Struble pitched some illustration examples the next morning.

Staffers began collecting as many shoes as possible from those who had ran the marathon, and interviewing the people who gave their shoes for the project, the magazine reported.

Mitch Feinberg was commissioned to photograph the shoes, and told the magazine he arranged the shoes because "having the red in the center and going dark felt right."

"There was a question of what to do with the laces. Do I tie the shoes? Do I not tie the shoes? I felt that having the laces in looked a little like veins and gave it a bit of an artery feeling, and that made the heart feel more human in a way," he said.

Once the photos were back, a team of three editors got together to lay the cover right against the print deadline, according to the magazine. They decided on "We will finish the race" for the headline, referencing a quote from then-President Barack Obama.

Staffers recalled the moment they saw the cover for the first time.

"I remember opening it on my computer and gasping," former senior editor Jason Schwartz told the magazine. "It literally just took my breath away."

Former Editor-in-Chief John Wolfson told the magazine he was in his car when the image was posted on Twitter, and by the time he got to the office his "voicemail inbox was completely stuffed."

"It’s so rare in life that you get that kind of feedback, especially the kind you’re hoping for—but it’s especially rare in journalism," Wolfson said. "It was incredibly, incredibly rewarding."

"To this day, I’m the proudest of this of anything I’ve done in my career," he added.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was convicted in 2015 of perpetrating the bombings near the finish line of the race with his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev. His brother died in a shootout with police during a manhunt to find the suspects in the bombing.

Tsarnaev was convicted of all 30 charges against him, including conspiracy and use of a weapon of mass destruction. He was sentenced to death, though his sentence was overturned by the First Circuit Court of Appeals in 2020, the Associated Press reported.

Supreme Court Justices ruled in a 6-3 vote to overturn the circuit court's ruling in 2022, and attorneys for Tsarnaev argued in January before a federal appeals court to throw out the sentence, the AP reported.