Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Mayhem on Marathon Monday

The events at the 117th Boston Marathon will never be forgotten. It didn’t just affect the running community – it affected the world.  A marathon doesn’t only test the spirit of the runner, it tests the spirit and tenacity of their loved ones enduring the months of training to qualify for the Marathon and then training to stay pace and/or set a PR. Marathon Monday was supposed to celebrate all the months of training and support. What happened instead was of unspeakable horror.

Marathon Monday is on Patriot’s Day, which commemorates the battle of Lexington and Concord, (the start of the Revolutionary War). The area around the finish became a war zone and two bombs were detonated shortly before 3PM (EST) and 4 hours after the starting gun went off for the 2013 Boston Marathon. Cheering spectators gathered to cheer on runners.  Many spectators don’t even know a participant – they are there to support. Reports of the number of victims vary, but agree that the numbers are 150+ victims and 3 deaths.

The Boston Athletic Association (BAA) made headlines in the running world last year when they told runners due to extreme heat on Marathon Monday, runners would be able to take a bye and they would be able to run in 2013.  In 2011, the BAA tightened qualifying times and also struck out the 59 second grace period. On Monday evening, rather than celebrating the achievements of the runners, the BAA had to release this statement on their website, “Today is a sad day for the City of Boston, for the running community, and for all those who were here to enjoy the 117th running of the Boston Marathon. What was intended to be a day of joy and celebration quickly became a day in which running a marathon was of little importance.”

And as I cheered on friends from 3,000 while tracking them on my cell, a friend called to tell me about the blast. We had several friends running, and we knew one of our dear girlfriends was projecting to finish around 4 hours. Our hearts were in our throats. We knew she would be close to the finish & we knew her husband would be waiting for.  We quickly scrambled to find information. All of their friends were panicked, and with cell phone service around Boston suspended, we relied on social media. And while we prayed fervently for their safety and the safety of others, reports of critical injuries and death swept across the news outlets.  Soon, we had news: Hubby and runner wife had been reunited. They were at the ER— Hubby was in the blast. He has a shrapnel wound and received several stitches. I could not imagine the extreme panic running towards danger and then not knowing where your loved one is. I know the two of the will continue their endurance running. Other running friends have said they will not let this change their love of the sport. Still others I’ve spoken with want to take up racing to prove that this act of terror will not get the American people down and that something as pure as the marathon will endure.  The Boston Marathon is still on my life’s to do list and while it can’t be my first marathon back from surgery- the need to run from Hopkinton to Copley Square in Boston has been reignited. I stand with other runners and the world to pray for peace and pray for the families of the victims. Many are not as lucky as my friend with the shrapnel wound.

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