Thursday, April 18, 2013

Boston Marathon - The Bombing Will Not Stop Us!

 "We're going to keep running . . . . This isn't a hobby! This is who we are. This is our tribe"

The events of last Monday at the Boston Marathon, were truly, terrible and tragic. Others, have described much more eloquently than I ever can, the horror and the massive out-pouring of emotion from the bombing of the Boston Marathon.

I'll try and take a slightly different approach here.

In a way, the Boston Marathon is the Grand-Father of ALL participatory endurance sports events and races. Before all the other big marathons - there was Boston. Before - triathlons, and the Ironman - there was Boston. Before all the other big running races of any distance - there was Boston.* Before - gran fondos and century rides - there was Boston. The Boston Marathon came before all of this!

The Boston Marathon defined, what is a large participatory endurance sports event, and the concurrent, embracing of that event by the host community. On Patriots Day in Boston and all along the route, from Hopkinton - everything and everyone stops, and focuses on the Boston Marathon. There are no complaints about road closures or other inconveniences. There is no whining about not being able to get around. It's an all-in thing for everyone! Every last runner, is cheered for, heartily and with vigor all along the route. As women's marathon running pioneer and the first woman to run in the Boston Marathon, Kathrine Switzer put it so, succinctly, "If you are losing faith in human nature, go and watch a marathon"!

The Boston Marathon is the template, the hope, and the wish, that I am sure every event organizer who ever starts up something, even the humblest 5k fun run, tries to get to - or at least envision. Wouldn't it be great if one day, we could be like the Boston Marathon?

I sense that's why, other than the absolute outrage over the tragedy of what happened on Monday, that this has been such a unifying phenomenon. Even if we've never been to Boston, or done the Boston Marathon, we've either all wanted to, or took part in, or stood on the side of the road cheering, at a very similar event. We all felt like we were there. That we had been attacked and violated. It was personal.

I saw it written somewhere this week, that - "these guys picked the wrong group of people, if they thought they were going to stop us". Hence, Bob Babbitt's great quote at the top. Everyone who's ever pushed the aerobic envelop, is part of this tribe. That's why after the horror and shock of Monday, there has been this extraordinary force of unity amongst all endurance sports athletes, and an emboldened feeling of, we must go on!

The Boston Marathon will go on, all endurance sports events will go on and endurance sports athletes will keep going on!

*Note - I would be remiss, if I did not acknowledge here, that indeed the oldest foot-race in North America is, the Around The Bay 30K, race in Hamilton, Ontario. In fact, Around The Bay, has a catchy slogan that they use from time to time to promote their event "Older than Boston" - which I think is great!

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