On April 15, 2013, two Chechen men – boys, really – planted a backpack with a bomb in it at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Today, April 21, 2014, is Marathon Monday again. I wasn’t at the Marathon last year, but it threw me all the same. I was supposed to be there, and I had friends running the Marathon. I had friends nearing the finish line when the bomb went off, who didn’t get to finish the race they’d been training all year for. But at the same time, I had friends who were just a little off their expected pace and as a result, my friends survived.
No-one I knew was one of the three people tragically killed last year, although they did number among the 264 injured. People I knew posted online to volunteer spots on the floors of their houses for runners who couldn’t get home because of the transportation shut downs. People I knew went to donate blood, and some of my close friends were the first to start the social media actions among Tufts students to make sure all our classmates were safe and sound. People I knew were part of the movement that proved just how true the saying Boston Strong really is.
I’m not going to pretend I know what it was like to be on the finish line that day, and I’m not going to say I can identify with the people that saw that tragedy first hand. But it is impossible to be someone who was in Boston that day and to be unaffected by it. To be someone who woke up multiple times to notices from Tufts Police telling us not to leave our dorms, or to be someone who sat side by side with her friends glued to the TV screen, watching and waiting to see if the terror was moving closer to us. Everyone in the greater Boston area was affected by that horror. But all of us are moving on.
I told myself that very day that I was going to run the Boston Marathon because of the bombing. Because the bombing was a terrorism act intended to fill the city with fear. There is no way to know why the bombs were set, or what was intended to come as a result, but I know that I’m not one to cower in fear. So I said I would run the Marathon. And dozens of other people said the same thing.
This year, the Marathon has the second largest number of runners in its 118-year history – 36,000 runners. And though I can’t run with them, I’m with them in spirit. I’m rooting especially for the Tufts Marathon Team, and all the other Jumbos that are running the Marathon for the second time this year, and who are actually going to get the satisfaction of crossing the finish line.
I’m rooting for everyone that ran last year and then ran on to donate blood. I’m rooting for everyone running this year because of last year’s tragedy, and I’m rooting for everyone running in spite of it. If I was in Boston, I’d be running it too (and that says a lot coming from a self-proclaimed anti-runner. Although I ran again this morning, so…)
As horrible and frightening as the bombing was, it proved the strength of the Boston community. It proved that the Boston community has spread all around the world, literally. Boston Strong made it all the way to Prague, and made it back this year. The greater Boston region, the United States, and the world as a whole have united around the runners of this Marathon and every marathon, and the runners are staying Strong. Today and for years to come.