Like so many, I have been stuck in a place of disbelief and horror after hearing of the tragic events at the Boston Marathon on Monday. I wasn’t going to write anything about it, because I wasn’t there personally and so my reaction only echoes thousands of others — shock and heartache at such a senseless act. Grief for the lives lost or changed forever. Hurt for fellow runners — who I call friends simply because they’re part of the great and powerful RUNNING COMMUNITY. My emotions certainly aren’t original, but they are sincere.
Several years ago, I wrote a blog post about “Super Fans,” those people in my life who have made the long, winding road of my distance running career less lonely. What is absolutely breaking my heart, reducing me to tears every time I think about it, is that someone else’s — many someone elses’, in fact — super fans were attacked. They have been horribly injured and some have been lost. I can imagine what their runners are feeling, and as a 4:20:00 marathoner it is all too easy to imagine my greatest super fans eagerly awaiting my finish when the attack occurred, but I know that even the most accurate projection of empathy cannot come close to touching the depth of what they’re going through.
Nevertheless, I hurt for them. So much. And I think, I have to do something, because evil like this cannot pass by without a response, but what can I do? I can keep running, sure, but that’s something I’d do anyway and is at best only a symbolic act. Is there any tangible difference I can make? That’s one of the questions I’ve been wrestling with over the past two days.
I’ve come up with only one thing: the RUNNING COMMUNITY is very real and very special. There is an atmosphere of hope and exhilaration and triumph at a race like the Boston Marathon. I’ve never experienced anything else like it, and it’s something I’d like LilRunr to enjoy himself someday.
Here is my pledge — I haven’t been as involved in the running community lately as I used to be, but in honor of Boston I will change that. It starts this weekend, when I will be plastering funny and motivational signs all over the mile of the Olathe Marathon course that passes by my neighborhood and cheering on participants. Going forward, I’ll be on the lookout for other ways to help, whether it’s volunteering at races, gathering up folks for group runs, or anything else that comes my way. Whatever small part I can play in sustaining the spirit of running, I will do it.