“I bend and do not break.”
Jean de La Fontaine
While I find it hard to put to words exactly what I’m feeling right now regarding Boston, that quote seems to sum it up perfectly. I think the running community would agree with me. We are a network made up of hundreds of thousands of resilient persons who know no stranger. It doesn’t matter your body type, skill level, ethnicity, gender or income level – you are accepted into the running community. Even though we may have never met, we band together as a community. We cheer each other on as a community. We grieve as a community.
That’s what makes the bombings on Monday so hard to reconcile. Like the school shooting in Newtown, I just keep wondering why? WHY? Why would someone do this?
I attended an impromtu 5k prayer run last night put together by our local running store, Run-n-Tri. With less than 12 hours of planning, almost 400 runners showed up to support those affected by the bombings. That’s the community that I’m talking about. We band together in support of each other. We accept and love everyone.
As a runner, something (I feel) that the media has missed out on capturing is the essence of The Boston Marathon. In the running world, Boston is the equivalent of the Olympics. It isn’t just a race that you flippantly sign up for. Many of those runners have dedicated years of their lives trying to qualify and get into Boston. As far as life events go, running The Boston Marathon is up there right next to getting married, having kids or graduating college. What should have been a day of jubilation for these runners will now forever be overshadowed by someone’s, or some group’s, act of terrorism. My heart breaks for each and every person who ran on Monday.
Equally as upsetting are the innocent spectators that were killed and hurt; 179 people in total, 176 injured and 3 killed. Most of those 179 casualties on Monday were spectators. Family and friends who were there to revel in their loved one’s accomplishments. Strangers who came out to soak up the exciting race atmosphere and cheer on runners. Spectators are the lifeblood of any running event. They are always there on the sideline with a high-five, an encouraging cheer, a funny sign or a cool drink – all for the benefit of the runners. Spectators are completely selfless individuals yet some coward(s) chose purposely to attack them.
As upset and angry as I am about the bombings, my hope in humanity is not shattered. In fact, there have been countless stories that have warmed my heart over the past day and a half. Stories of runners who finished the race but kept running to the nearest hospital to give blood, the story of the former NFL football player who ran into the danger and carried an injured woman to safety, stories of Bostonians opening their hearts and homes/businesses to stranded runners. There is good in just about any bad situation, you just have to look closely enough.
This is what the spirit of the marathon is about, camaraderie. And that’s what someone(s) tried to take away from us. However, what they didn’t count on is how resilient the running community is and how protective America is when we’re attacked. We might have bent a little bit, but one thing is for sure, these bombings did not break us. Nor will they break us. If anything, they just made our resolve that much stronger. They made our running community much more closely knit. This weekend, we runners will leave our homes and run our races; we will not live in fear. We will high-five the spectators and hug our loved ones tightly at the finish line. And when we do, we will all remember Boston and know that we’re honoring them by running.