Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The Marathon

I have run the Boston Marathon.  I unexpectedly qualified by running 3:27:30 at the Mississauga Marathon one fine spring day.  The next April, my family and I drove down to beantown and stayed in a hotel in Brookline right on the marathon route and about 2 miles away from the finish line on Boylston.

We had perfect marathon weather that Patriot's Day, with cloudy skies, temperatures in mid 50's, light west breeze, it couldn't have been better running conditions and far removed from the blistering temperatures that prevailed that day a year earlier.

When are are one of the runners in Boston on marathon day, you are treated like royalty.  People high five you, they nod as you pass, despite the thousands that will toe the line that day they find it amazing that you are there to run it.  The day before, during and after, if you are a Boston Marathon runner it really is all about you, or so they make you feel.

The crowds persist over the entire 26.2 mile route.  They never seem thinner than 3 rows deep anywhere.  The screaming wall of women at Wellesley College can be heard a mile out and is the perfert mid-race pick-me-up.  You do have to reign it in a tad to make sure you don't overcook at, since the college sits nearly right on the 13.1 mile marker.

You battle the hills in Newton and your quads seem cooked by 20 miles.  I could only discern the infamous Heartbreak Hill by the signs in the area, as the whole region at this point seems like you're either climbing up or scampering down.  As you make your way into Boston proper, you see the Citco sign looming into view, the crowds thicken and it gets impossibly louder.  If the marathoners are tireless in their pursuit of the finish line, the crowds that scream every number and every name along the way must be twice so, because they start when the first wheelchair athlete passes by and don't stop until the last straggler has is through.

This year, somebody, or some group, decided to take advantage of the openess of the venue, and attack the spectators, the runners, the volunteers, the passers-by, the curious, the media, children, adults, unselective, unforgiving, inhuman.  The projectiles that were blasted out of some hidden devices arbitrarily tore through one victim and another, and another, with deadly force, set with utter disregard for the who, all within an instant and without warning.

I don't even understand what this was an attack on.  An 8 year old boy?  29 year old woman?  Athletes from around the world?  Just, people?

Runners will run.  People will watch and cheer.  This won't change.  I haven't run a marathon since 2006 Boston.  Maybe that part will change.

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