Yesterday morning is a day Cheryl and I look forward to every year. Ever since we started running in 2007 we learned that the pinnacle of running was the Boston Marathon. It’s not a marathon that just anyone can run. You must first qualify (if you can) and then try and register before all the other people who qualified. If you aren’t a fast enough runner (I am certainly not) you run for a charity, with fulfillment amounts close to $2,500 to participate.
In February 2010 Cheryl and I took our annual birthday trip to Boston. We had never been there and decided we wanted to visit. February was very cold and windy there, but knowing we would never be able to qualify for Boston we decided to run part of the route one morning.
It was an awesome run and definitely a running city. We saw dozens of other runners out that morning enjoying the sunshine. A lot, I can assume, were in training for the Boston Marathon in April. Traditionally Cheryl and I watch the live stream of the marathon online. Since the run is always on a Monday we are always working. Yesterday was no different. It was difficult to find a good live stream at first, but Cheryl and I eventually found one and commented back and forth about the progress of the race and rooting on our USA girls Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher. I even told Cheryl how envious I was of how Kara looks amazing after her pregnancy.
A few hours after the elites crossed the finish line, though, the marathon was forced out of a state of celebration to a state of pure terror and sadness. An unknown person or group of people set off two bombs near the marathon finish line. As I am writing this there are officially 3 people that have died and over 150 people that were injured.
When I saw the first videos and pictures online I was frozen at my desk in a state of pure shock. Who? How? and most importantly Why? Why would anyone want to hurt innocent bystanders and runners who are there only doing wonderful things. Running is a community. It is not a sport like football or baseball where people have rivalries and follow their favorite teams. Running in itself is an individual sport, but all those individuals together make up one of the most inspiring group of dedicated people I have ever had the pleasure to be a part of.
A story on Runners World today says it better than my scattered thoughts:
“Even without that special purpose, marathon running is a sport of goodwill. It’s the only sport in the world where if a competitor falls, the others around will pick him or her up. It’s the only sport in the world open to absolutely everyone, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity or any other division you can think of. It’s the only occasion when thousands of people assemble, often in a major city, for a reason that is totally peaceful, healthy and well-meaning. It’s the only sport in the world where no one ever boos anybody.”
I honestly cannot imagine the state of terror the people near the finish line felt, along with everyone watching on TV. But what I have been telling people since yesterday (many called or texted unsure if we were there this year) was that I cannot imagine the runners. Here they were, after months of training, hard work and dedication, about to cross the finish line, when they were abruptly stopped. Police at the time didn’t tell them why. Then they started hearing about a bombing at the finish line. Not one, but two. The utter terror half of them must have felt knowing their families and loved ones were there, somewhere, waiting for them. After all that they couldn’t even go anywhere. Many had to turn down side streets, unable to get to their bags with their valuables and cell phones. I honestly do not know how I would have been able to handle a situation like that and my heart goes out to everyone running yesterday.
Amby Burfoot, winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon, was running yesterday. He was stopped about a half a mile from the finish line. I think he really says it best, as a runner…
“This wasn’t just an attack against the Boston Marathon. It was an attack against the American public and our democratic use of the streets. We have used our public roadways for annual parades, protest marches, presidential inaugurations, marathons, and all manner of other events. The roads belong to us, and their use represents an important part of our free and democratic tradition. I trust and believe that will not change in the future–not in Boston, not at the Boston Marathon, and not at other important public events. Yes, we must be ever-vigilant. We can not cover our eyes and ears, and pretend violent acts don’t threaten our great institutions.But our institutions did not become great by following a path of timidity and cowardice. And we can only hope that, when pummeled, as the Boston Marathon was today, they will rise again, stronger than ever.”
I hope whoever committed these crimes is brought to justice. I know running events from now on will have even tighter security than ever before, but it will all be for the safety of everyone there. My prayers are with everyone in Boston and everyone in the running community. The volunteers at the race, police officers and civilians that ran towards the blast to help. They are the real heroes of this story. I know the running community will overcome this and run together, stronger than ever before.