The bombings at the Boston Marathon have hit close to home. I’m a runner, and have found no better representation of the human race than at the starting line of a marathon. Whether shooting for a sub-3:00 or just hoping to finish, everyone at the starting line has made a multi-month commitment to push themselves, to trade comfort for happiness, and to do what their body and minds tells them is impossible.
Running is a great sport in that the professionals and amateurs all meet on the same field of play. Think about it. You will probably never play a pick-up game at Madison Square Garden. Your company softball team will never play on Wrigley Field. But when you sign up for a major marathon, you will run in the footsteps of some of the best in the world. The distinction between novice and pro dissolves.
Everyone gathered is there to be great, and encourage others towards greatness. I am in equal awe of the marathon winner as I am of 60 year old man who decided to take responsibility for his health so that he might have a few more years with his grandkids. There’s a reason why everyone gets a medal at the end of a marathon. Each person who crosses the finish line has achieved something that most of the world views as impossible. If you’ve never run a marathon, the atmosphere at the starting line is electric. Everyone there is on the precipice of the impossible. The person who crosses the finish line is infinitely wiser than the one who took those first few strides hours earlier.
Though I believe in a higher order of right and wrong, I’ve never been a religious man. I imagine the fellowship I feel amongst other runners during a marathon approximates what people of faith feel in their house of worship, amongst their congregation. Today, some attention-seeking loose cannon decided to desecrate this moment. I’ve run 6 marathons so far. I once ran two in one week. I’m running number 7 next month. Whoever committed this senseless act has spoiled the sanctity of this rite for us all. What is the appropriate response to this? I don’t have an exact answer. I’ll do what I always do when I can’t make sense of the world. I’ll lace up my shoes, settle into an even stride, and see where the road takes me. I hope I see you there.
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