Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What the Boston explosions can't take away

I ran Boston once, about 20 years ago. I'd covered the marathon as a sports columnist the year before for my newspaper in Connecticut, and I'd watched people young and old, skinny and large, taking those joyful steps over the finish line on Boylston. I vowed to readers, in print, that I'd be one of them the next year.

I ran as a back of the packer, one of the thousands of runners who don't qualify but show up anyway each year. One of the great things about Boston is that it doesn't matter, even if the race officially frowns upon it. We got the same nods and smiles from race officials at the start in Hopkinton, the same cheers from the families on the front lawns in the towns on the route, the same sweet oranges and sweeter smiles from the little boys and girls.

When I suffered a muscle tear in my foot at about mile 16, the driver of the bus collecting injured runners treated me as if I were wearing an official runner's bib. Same for the professionals in the medical tent, just past the finish line, where I got my foot treated, a crinkly silver blanket for my shoulders, and a piece of fruit for the limp home.

I thought about that spirit yesterday as I watched the video loop of booms and blood. I thought about how the people of Boston came together each year to celebrate this event, how they did so by participating, by sharing, by welcoming everyone who wanted to experience it with them. 

Three people are dead now, with maybe more to come. Today we transition into sadness. We hear about the lives of the lost. We see family members, their faces showing the colder and emptier years ahead. And the spirit of this marathon - will it be lost, too? It will be different, for sure, next year. Defiant, maybe wary, but united. It's what they do. It's what we do.


What are others saying about Boston? 

Boston Globe columnist Scott Lehigh says the city will not cower.

Globe columnist Elizabeth Comeau says she will run Boston next year. 

The New York Times said Boston's celebration was shattered, but not broken.  

The Chicago Tribune says each attack makes us more resilient.

Sports Illustrated's S.L. Price says Boston joins a growing list of suffering cities

From Sports on Earth writer and former Observer columnist Tommy Tomlinson: runners will keep running.

Peter St. Onge