It has been a hard few days following the tragic events that occurred in the city of Boston during the 117th running of the Boston Marathon. My thoughts, prayers, and heart goes out to all of those affected by this terrible tragedy. Even as the days and weeks continue to go by, and the investigation continues, what answers we are given will never be able to answer our deepest questions of "why?" I trust and hope that those affected by this tragedy, will find as many of the answers they seek, and can continue a life of peace and hope.
I'm a native of southern New Hampshire. When people here in the Denver area ask me where I'm from, I usually just say "Boston." It's a bigger city than folks think, as the suburbs stretch far into southern New Hampshire. My father ran in the 100th running of the Boston Marathon, easily one of his proudest accomplishments of his life. A bucket list dream he took head on after a stress-attack in his mid 40s. I've never had an interest in running Boston. I've always snarled at the event.. I found it to be too crowded, and I never really understood the marvel it had become.
As an Ultra Runner living in New England, when people heard that I run ultras the next question was always, "Have you ever run Boston?" A naive question from those who have a hard time fathoming 26.2 never mind 100. Here in the Front Range, the questions is an excited, "Have you ever run Leadville?" I'll admit that my level of annoyance from the Boston question increased with the number of times I'd been asked. I'm not a big fan of marathons to begin with. It's a different culture. It hurts to pound on pavement for 4 hours, as fast as you can, rarely talking to another runner. Ultrarunning is more of a community.
I guess that's why I've been affected so deeply by the tragic events in Boston. For years, many of us ultra-runners talk about why we love ultras so much. One of the main reasons is, because marathon runners never talk to each other, they're a very insular group, while Ultra runners are all about the communal party. Then, in an instant in Boston, we saw the marathoner group caring for each other. Running into danger, running to the hospital to give blood, running to help find each other, running in support of each other... suddenly, my ever thought towards that community as a whole has changed.
Running is different now. The Boston Marathon will never be the same. Folks run for new reasons, and now.. for the first time in my life.. I finally find myself wanting to run in the world's most famous marathon. Not because my father has, or because it's just what every runner does.. but because Boston is my home. I want to run the Boston Marathon out of solidarity to my hometown brethren and to shine my middle finger in the face of terrorism.
I guess this is the world we live in now. For me, it really started with Columbine. Then it was Unabomber, Anthrax, Atlanta Olympics, Oklahoma City, 9/11, Aurora, Newtown.... Boston. My grandparents survived the Great Depression and terrible World Wars. My parents made it through race equality, Vietnam, and communism. This is my generations war.. a war so terrible, violent, and close to home that it seems to trump those that our parents and grandparents fought. As I look at my son, I wonder what the price of his freedom will be. I wonder what that war for independence will look like.
Today, I refuse to live in fear. I say that... but I do. It was months after Aurora before I could go to the movies. Today, on Facebook, I read a post from a friend. Who while running in Arizona, had a kid hang out the wind of a car, drive up behind him and yell "BANG" to scare him. THIS is the world we live in.. this is how distant, technology addicted parents, are teaching their kids to be OK. Gone is compassion in our world and with it, common sense. Our American sense of humor, and entitlement, is contributing to the larger problem.
It's been hard writing this. Hard to find the words. What are the right words? What do I really want to say? I don't know... I'm mostly speechless and deeply affected by the tragedy to both my community and my home.
I'm returning to Vermont this summer to run in the 100. It's going to be a whole different home-coming now, and I have new reasons to run. I'll run for Boston. Boston is my home. Many of my ultra-family members ran in the marathon Monday.. I'm glad they're all OK. But I know their lives are changed forever. I'll run for them, in solidarity. For Boston..