I had just sat down to to write another blog post last night…but I stopped midway. The content of that post seems pretty trivial now.
Literally ended a skype call to my dad and said I wanted to go and track some of my friends who were running the Boston Marathon yesterday. That’s when I heard the news about the bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon :( My first reaction was who the hell chooses a marathon as the target for a violent act like this.
It just makes me so sad. I guess this gets to me more than the terrorist attacks of 9/11 or the London underground bombings, because of the runner in me. But its not just that. Marathons around the world are international events where people from across the world come together not just to test the limits of the human body, mind and spirit but also to run alongside people of different races, religions, ages and abilities. The marathon is something that brings people together and destroys egos (sometimes you just have to accept you are going to get beaten by someone twice your age, double your size and even those with broken legs).
I think that saying about the marathon restoring your faith in human nature is true. I saw this for myself on when I ran my first marathon back in September 2012. Although I was nervous, I wasn’t ever worried that if I fell that no-one would help me. More experienced runners were there pacing the newbies, reminding us not to go out to fast. People shared their water sachets and gu gels when they saw other runners struggling. The smiles and words of encouragement were there to keep you motivated and remind you that you weren’t suffering alone. People were willing to slow down and lose precious minutes of PBs just to check others were OK and offer them the advice which would make the difference in that runner finishing or giving up. Some may say that running is a individual sport where we compete against ourselves, but I don’t think that is true. There are so many times when I’ve seen running partners literally drag each other across the finish line. I know from my own experience that I would have never run my first marathon or be training for my second if it weren’t for the constant support of my running buddies.
And its not just the runners that make the marathon such a special event. Its everyone else, the supporters, the marshals and all the support staff that give up their free-time, brave the elements and do all the behind-the-scenes work to ensure we all make it across the finish line in one piece. They are the real unsung heroes. The Cape Town Marathon wasn’t the best when it came to supporters and atmosphere (but looking back, for me that was a blessing in disguise as it made it possible for me parents to be able to literally track me the whole time from 10k onwards). However, you don’t always have your family and friends there to cheer you on so you rely on the cheers of people who are just random strangers to keep you motivated. I saw this on the Two Oceans Half Marathon - it is by no means the easiest 21k route, but because of the crowd support there was not a single moment where I felt I could stop and walk, the crowd literally carries you to the finish and I really did feel like I was flying (and km I secretly wished I could go back and run a few extra km’s just to make the happy feeling last a little longer).
So, I don’t understand why the Boston Marathon was targeted. Yes, the media attention…all eyes would have been on Boston and the massive crowds that were there. But how can the perpetrators expect any sympathy or understanding of their actions ? Those runners were at the end of one of the hardest physical challenges of their lives (I don’t believe it really ever gets any easier – even if it was your 10th marathon) and a bunch of spineless morons go and do this. Its totally senseless.
But as with everything…we are forced to move on and we are going to come out stronger (both as runners and as part of wider society), the London Marathon will go ahead on Sunday (although the security in the city will be tightened) and people will have a reason to run faster and harder without giving up. It won’t be as easy for the victims and the runners who are in Boston today. There is nothing I can really say on this blog to make anything better but my thoughts are with you.
- Boy, 8, killed in Boston marathon blasts ‘after hugging dad on finish line’ (metro.co.uk)
- Boston Marathon explosions: Terrorism investigation launched after deadly ‘bombings’ at finish line (metro.co.uk)
- London Marathon security to be reviewed after Boston blasts (metro.co.uk)
- Terror at the Boston Marathon (boston.com)