There was never a doubt in anyone’s mind that yesterday would be joyous. No matter if you were an elite runner gunning for the win, an age-grouper who’d worked so hard to qualify, a cheering spectator, or an onlooker from afar dreaming of the day when you could run those sacred roads—Marathon Monday promised, as always, to be filled with inspiration and celebration.
Yesterday started out no differently. I spent all morning at my desk with a browser dedicated to streaming the race. I had followed the stories of several elites, and I couldn’t wait to watch them perform on the most famous stage the sport has to offer. I also couldn’t wait to track friends of mine who were running for the first time. I myself would be attempting to qualify for this special race in just two weeks, which made yesterday’s show all the more inspiring.
After the top men and women came through, it was time for the rest of them—”them” being a collective term for ordinary runner folk—to take their turn on the legendary course.
Many finished. Many fulfilled the dream that they had been training for and focusing on for so long. Those who finished intended to spend the rest of their time celebrating what should have been one of the happiest days of their life.
That’s the thought I can’t get out of my head.
What should have been.
Because at 4:09 hours into the race, everything stopped. All those people invested in the race—those who’d finished, those who hadn’t yet, and those watching their loved ones fulfill a dream—suddenly it wasn’t a scene of triumph. It became a scene of chaos and panic, all set on the stage of a marathon. A scene so shockingly different from what had existed moments ago, it couldn’t possibly be happening.
But it was happening. And despite all the pleas of asking why and the anger and the frustration and the sadness and the desperate attempts to discern some meaning from it all—all we’re left with on this morning after is a hole in our hearts for the violation of our running community.
I can’t add anything to the story of what happened that you haven’t already heard. I went from a state of pure elation for all the runners yesterday to complete shock and disbelief. I watched the news for hours and read as many stories as I could, but they all revolved around one truth: the sanctity of running a marathon had been brutally intruded upon.
We all ache most for the innocent victims and families of this tragic event. Our resources must be used primarily to help them and to help the city of Boston. There is nothing anyone can say or even do in the wake of these disasters to help the pain of losing a loved one. Perhaps, if anything, all we can do is demonstrate that despite the violation, despite the blatant hatred, we are a people of fortitude.
Runners are built to endure. We are bred we an understanding that in order to succeed, we must find a way to push through the pain. The marathon itself is a metaphor for the human spirit—and while someone may have attempted to crush that spirit yesterday—as always, we can and will keep going.
A running race is in no way an analogy for the pain felt by the people directly affected by this event. But perhaps all we can do, in a situation that otherwise feels helpless, is lend some of the camaraderie and resilience within the running community outward. Ours is a group of individuals full of love, hope, determination, and perhaps most importantly, will. These qualities do not exist solely within the confines of the track or a race course—they transcend into our every day lives and to the people around us.
It took all of a few minutes yesterday for incredible runners to turn into incredible samaritans. If there is any hope to take from all this, it’s that from the destruction of one individual arose a people of perseverance and strength. A people who’s determination to defend our sport, to defend the marathon, cannot and will not be broken.
Here are some of the best symbols of resilience I read regarding yesterday’s events:
-Peter Sagel, NPR & Runner’s World
– Ezra Klein, Washington Post
– Lauren Fleshman, Ask Lauren Fleshman
-Nicolas Thompson, The New Yorker
-Charles Pierce, ESPN
Our most loving thoughts are with you Boston. Stay strong, keep running.