About Boston


It’s hard to be snarky or clever after something like the bombing of the Boston Marathon.  As the dust settles from that awfulness, I thought it might be appropriate to say something, however, about the nature of sport and competition.  An incident showing the worst of humanity calls our attention to best of humanity. Marathons are unique in the sporting world.  There aren’t many sporting competitions where enthusiastic amateurs compete on the same field and at the same time as seasoned professionals, yet this is the norm in the running world.  Even as sponsored athletes sprint ahead for big money purses, weekend warriors plod along behind, covering the same ground and being cheered for by the same crowds.  They may cross the finish line hours after the runners who broke the tape, but all proudly say “I ran the marathon.”  It’s an event that is intensely personal and incredibly communal all at once. Marathons also take on the character of their host cities in a way that other sports don’t see.  Because a marathon is too big to be confined to a track or a stadium, it has to wind its way through the neighborhoods of the city it calls home, and this brings the athletes running a race into contact with the people of the city in a way few other sporting participants see.  Hometown pride brings out huge crowds looking to show off their neighborhood to visiting athletes.  Every marathoner can tell you about the friendly faces, clever signs, and offers of encouragement they received along the way.  And every marathoner can tell you how much receiving that kind of support helps get through the long 26 miles. For all that, a race is no less a competition than other sports.  Everyone goes out to race.  Whether they’re racing their own personal time, a guy from work, just a face in the crowd they pick out and say “I won’t let the girl in the orange shirt get away from me,” or whether they’re just a gutsy amateur trying to run down the professional ahead of them, when it comes to race day everyone is looking to perform.  It’s this drive to compete which has fueled them through hours of training.  Blisters, missed social engagements, pain–every runner knows these things.  And every runner has pushed through them to complete their run on race day. It’s these two things in tandem which showcase the best parts of humanity.  Our drive to be better, to sacrifice for the achievement of a goal, and our collective aspiration as a society to share an experience.  These are the qualities which propel us forward as a species, as a community.  I don’t know what the misguided individuals were attempting to do with their bombs, but frankly I don’t care.  They won’t succeed.  Because my response to their efforts isn’t to hide.  My response is to put on a pair of trainers, get out the door, and go for a run. And I know that I’m not alone.