Monday’s Boston Marathon tragedy hit too close to home. I can not imagine what would make someone want to hurt the Boston Marathon supporters. They are what make the Boston Marathon great. If you have never run a marathon, than you will just need to imagine how helpful it is to have folks lining the roadways and cheering you on, and volunteers helping you if you need it. If you have run before, then you do know what it means to see friends, and family, and even people that you don’t know yelling and clapping and lending their support. This is what the Boston Marathon fans do, all along the way, and in my opinion it it what makes the Boston Marathon great. They are generous, happy, supportive folks that spend their day off cheering on the people that run. The runners are winners for accomplishing an amazing feat of running 26.2 miles, but the fans and volunteers are winners too. Because without them, many of the runners would have a hard time finishing.
When you start out it is all happy fanfare, music blaring, crowds making noise, and you are pumped to get going. As you are running (and running and running) you understandably start thinking “Ok, why did I do this?” when you hear someone yell your name, or the saying on your T Shirt. It energizes you and you keep going, determined to reach your friends and family waiting at the finish line, to accomplish your goal of running 26.2 miles, and, much of the time, to raise money for a cause.
The fans get you through. The crazy, fun crowds at Wellesley, the group at Heartbreak hill, and of course the throngs at the finish line. For me, I will never forget two people that helped me the year I ran Boston. I didn’t even know them. One was a small boy- who yelled for my T Shirt- “Go Diet Pepsi! I like Coke better, but Go anyway!” That made me laugh for miles!
I ran fine until 22 miles. Heartbreak Hill- no problem. But when someone in the crowd yelled “Go Diet Pepsi- only 4 more miles!”, you would think I would have been re-energized and ready to complete my run in fine style. Instead, I hit the wall. I stopped. I remember saying out loud to some guy I didn’t know- “4 more miles? What the heck, that is an entire run! I can’t do 4 more miles!” He looked at me as if I was crazy and said “You just ran 22 miles- of course you can run 4 more!”. My brain was able to grasp what he said, and I started to nod. He yelled “C’mon Diet Pepsi- go! Finish!” So I did! It was an amazing sight coming into the finish chute with everyone cheering and friends screaming, helpful volunteers there to hand you medals, and foil blankets, and water and whatever else you needed. Lots of hugs, lots of laughs, and lots of celebrating a job well done. That is how the finish should be.
It shouldn’t end like it did Monday. And those happy, cheering, generous fans and volunteers should not have been hurt. It breaks my heart to think of the young boy that was killed, a young boy just like the one that cheered for me during my run. It is painful to even think of the agony his Dad and family are dealing with right now. I wish I could do something to help. I will plan on going to cheer next year. And I hope that the rest of the Boston Marathon fans will return, so that we show whoever did this that they didn’t win on Monday. They won’t win. Ever.
There is a photo circulating now of Martin Richard, the young child that was killed on Monday, holding a sign that states “No More Hurting People. Peace”. Please, yes. I pray your wish comes true.