Tuesday, April 16, 2013

So, Boston Happened

Like hundreds of thousands of other runners, I listened to the live stream from the Boston Marathon all morning yesterday. The timing was such that I was able to watch the elite runners finish while I was eating lunch. I spent some time talking to one of my co-marathoners in the office, and his excitement about his attempt to qualify for next year's Boston Marathon in this year's Flying Pig. I told him that I hoped to post a qualifying time sometime in 2014 so that I could run Boston in 2015. Of course, we both wished that we had run faster last year, trained harder, started earlier, been a little bit better, so that we would be running through the streets of Boston yesterday morning instead of talking about how amazing the experience would be over stale coffee in our office lunchroom.

After the big finish, I went about my day. Until someone texted me with the news - that there had been explosions at the finish line and that it seemed like they were intentionally placed. Um, what? Another terrorist attack? At a marathon? And not just any marathon, but the biggest national marathon stage that any runner could ever aspire to be on. Today it seems that the death toll was thankfully low, though any loss of life in such a senseless act of violence is an absolute tragedy. In addition to the three who were killed, there were over a hundred more who were seriously injured. Hurt while either doing what they love, or while supporting loved ones who had worked so hard to make it to that finish line. And we aren't talking about the elite athletes, either - by that time it was the everyday runners - the people who are a little bit faster than the rest of the pack, but not so fast that they'll ever be given a major award. That and the charity runners, those who earned their spot in the pack by raising tens of thousands of dollars for cancer research, or heart disease, or any other incredibly worthy cause. Scary to think that it could have been me, or could have been any of the local running group people that I'm connected with (our entire local contingent made it out unharmed). So because there was nothing else that I could do, I dragged myself out of bed this morning when I really just wanted to hit the snooze button again and again, to go for a short run before work. Because so many of those people will never be able to do that again.

Marathons, more than any other event I've covered in 20 years' worth of international sports experience, are a celebration of a range of achievement, not just the top percentile. The amateurs run in the footsteps of the elite. The pride is palpable from the front ranks all the way to the back. The massed color and movement at the start are an impressionist painting of accomplishment. Because -- honestly -- most normal folks would tell you that getting there is achievement enough. The training they invest and the self-belief they develop in the process are worth it, no matter how long it takes them to finish.

Beyond that, the Boston Marathon is a collective civic experience, a holiday with more than a century of history. Planting lethal bombs at any point on the course would have been a horrible, criminal act. The symbolism of planting them at the finish line, where so many have lifted their arms in exultation, is unbearable. (Bonnie Ford, ESPN)


  1. I'm at a complete loss about yesterday. All of our friends are safe, but my heart aches. Marathon Monday is such a magical day in Boston. Hubby and I were supposed to be back there this year to celebrate with our friends, cheering on runners all day long like we have for the past 6 years. We decided not to go because all the expenses associated with a new house, but we both wished we were there yesterday.

  2. One doesn't need to be a runner to feel connected to the families victimized by this. I'm just a dad. Your runner perspective does add even more symbolism and feeling to the reaction of senseless killing and destruction. I suspect many people from Oklahoma City had painful memories resurface. I don't understand the insanity of bombing groups of innocent people. The death toll thankfully was low but the destroyed limbs and altered lives might be much higher. The toll on the whole nation's feeling of security and peace is great. Thanks for the post. Keep running.



Related Posts with Thumbnails