As a runner yesterday’s news from the Boston Marathon shocked me. Most random violent acts are terrible. They take away your safety net. Yet, even when I read about mall shootings, subway bombings or other acts, it doesn’t change my daily routine. I still ride the bus. I still go shopping at malls. There is a certain part of me understanding that nothing is certain but life.
I couldn’t place exactly why yesterday bothered me more, it unsettled me. Then today I read the Jezebel article about it. That’s when it connected to me. Marathons are a personal accomplishment for thousands of runners. Qualifying for Boston is a feat, getting in is even harder. Runner’s World covered this back in 2009, and it’s only gotten more competitive due to social media. Training for any marathon takes more than just the ability to run. It takes determination, strength, time, and the ability to be alone with your thoughts but also keep your body moving while your brain is saying quit. Boston has extremely difficult qualifying times, per the Runner’s World article above, only 10% of marathoners will make it. The runner’s running yesterday were making a dream come true. They were fulfilling a goal by even making it to the start line. The tradition, the fans, the course, it all supports that dream. When something attacks those supporting random strangers making their goal, it hurts. The victims were those watching loved ones and strangers achieve a life crowning moment. As a runner, I count on that support to push through races.
Some of my favorite races have been ones with memorable signs and strangers encouraging me along the way. I still remember signs from races long ago. In San Diego a guy held a sign that read “I don’t do marathons, I do a marathoner”. My first Twin Cities 10 Miler a lady held one that read “You’re faster than any Kenyan to me”. There was the one at Fargo that read “You trained for this longer than Kim Kardashian was Married”. Then there was the Elvis impersonator at Fargo. The DC half featured a guy wearing a super hero outfit also belting out karaoke and the Minnie Mouse lady. You see as a runner, even after all the training, you still doubt yourself. Your body still hurts. You still want to just stop and say I can’t anymore. It’s the people cheering you on, offering you treats and drinks . It’s the volunteers that wake up early posting to their station along the race. It’s the family holding signs up, taking pictures and watching. All of these things are what keep you going and encourage you to do it again. It also gives you a bonding moment with those you did the race with, we all achieved this together.
While the reasons are sorted out. The people are what will keep humanity going forward even in events like this. I leave you with this, shared from Facebook.
“If you’re losing your faith in human nature, look at marathon crowds, standing for hours with no seating, no cover, no bathrooms, to cheer thousands of strangers. Or look at our sport’s volunteers, on whose shoulders the whole sport rests,” Roger Robinson, Runners World writer at Boston Marathon.
If you want to do something, go out for a run today. Wear your favorite race shirt. Running is a community, strong, supportive, together.
“Every runner knows what a finish line means. It’s a refuge. It’s a celebration of life, and affirmation that you can, indeed, achieve the goals you set. It’s a community in which age, race, gender, economic status, even running ability, are forgotten in the thrill of a moment of shared accomplishment. Violence, terror, anger, grief? These have no place at a finish line.” – Message from the Drake Relays Road Races Organizers
Remember fear is a powerful thing, but love and hope are stronger.