The plan for today was to be jealous of people in Boston, running the world’s most iconic marathon. The plan was not to feel fortunate to not have been there. Then the plan changed. Instead, I decided to run a B-shaped (almost) 10km course as a tribute to the victims of the tragedy in Boston, where I was joined by two other fellow runners. It started and finished on the aptly named Boston Road in Auckland. We ran along our route chatting away about running events we’d entered, sharing tips and tales of running achievements. Not a sad word was spoken, except when we complained about the rain hitting our faces.
I followed the reactions on the internet all day today. Never had I seen Kathrine Switzer’s quote used more often than I did today. The first woman to run the Boston Marathon, back in 1967, famously said: “if you are losing faith in human nature, go and watch a marathon”. It has never been simultaneously as appropriate and inappropriate as today. The race famous in 1967 for Switzer’s entry is now famous for being the scene of a crime. Watching what happened at that finish line does nothing for anyone’s faith in human nature today.
But watching what happened after that does. There are a number of examples of people offering others a roof in Boston, or any other sort of help. The Red Cross doesn’t need any more blood because it got so many donations from selfless people. The NBC reported that some runners crossed the finish line and kept on running towards the hospital to give blood. People offered food, shelter and any kind of assistance to those who needed it. Humanity wins (Patton Oswalt has a good post today about that).
My thoughts kept drifting back to Boston today because, in case you hadn’t noticed, I’m really into running. And Boston is, as many describe, the holy grail of marathon running. As runners, we’re part of the same tribe, a global community of like-minded people. Those were my people out there in Boston today, we’re part of the same group. Messing with my people messes with me.
Plus, this is a sport event. A charitable event. A symbol. The triumph of men and women going further than they thought possible. It is linked to camaraderie, to the best of the human spirit, to overcoming adversity. It’s not meant to be linked to any of this bombing bullshit. If an event like this isn’t safe, where’s safe? The sad realisation is that nowhere is safe. It’s hard to look at images of people with missing limbs and not lose faith in human nature, wherever those people are from.
Today sucked. It sucked in every direction. It sucked in Boston, and in Iraq, where lots of lives were also lost in explosions. It sucked in the Koreas (damn, just get along already!) and it sucked in a bunch of other places I won’t even mention here because this is a blog about running so I’ll ask you to go elsewhere for the news of all the suckiness in the world today. I’m going to focus on the good: I went for a run in the rain with two fellow runners, it felt great. On days like today, I feel even more fortunate to be part of this crazy community.
“If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon”, yes. If that marathon turns out to be a horrible tragedy, you can still admire the amazing feats of those who finished it (please, 2013 Boston finishers, don’t feel bad for bragging about your time!) and you can also admire the amazing acts of kindness that came out of it. That, if nothing else, should help restore that faith in human nature.
I hope you get out there and run today. Just because you can.