As we slowly watch the snowiest winter in Boston’s history melt away, we start to have visions of warmer days and outside activities. For some, this means enjoyment of the little things like a warm sip of coffee while people watching in Copley Square. For the running community, it means not having to play ‘frogger’ with cars on Commonwealth Ave. and reclaiming the carriage lanes as the running path. Mother nature certainly has a sense of humor, as we all witnessed with her mini snowstorm last Sunday as runners muscled through one of their final long runs before the marathon. They would not be denied!
It’s coming up on two years since the attacks of April 15. The city is stronger than it has ever been. Last year, we witness an amazing groundswell of support to reclaim our beloved marathon and to show evil that it is not welcomed here. As I reflect back upon my years in Boston (celebrating our 15th Boston Marathon) as well as the horrible events just two years ago, one can’t help drawing a comparison between that day and other horrible days such a Newtown, CT, Aurora, and 9/11 to name just a few. Each of these events has the obvious in common, but what they also share are what happened in the wake of these events; heroism and selflessness. We have all seen and read about the amazing acts of human strength that followed these events. What makes Boston different to me is that those that were impacted by the attacks on April 15 were ALREADY acting as heroes and being selfless. That is what the Boston Marathon is all about. These selfless individuals train through some of the worst conditions all in the name of charity. Sure, they fight internal demons, but the faces of those they are running for lift them up over the slushy sidewalks and slippery footpaths.
The Boston Marathon is unique in the sense that it is one of the single largest fundraising events in the US every year. As of 2014, the marathon helped raise over $150 million since its inception back in 1989. That means that on a day where 1000’s of people were running through our streets in support of others, they were asked to give even more, and they did. Evil poked its ugly head out that wicked day and it pissed off a whole bunch of people who were already giving more than most ever do. These same people knew of only one way to heal. They needed to help others. Soon, others wanted to help, so they dusted off their shoes, trained, raised money and toed the line at the 118th Boston Marathon. Many runners never even stepped foot in Boston, but ran to help support charities like the One Fund. In particular, the One Run for Boston raised over $500,000 for the One Fund Boston.
The 2015 Boston Marathon is upon us and runners have had to face some significant obstacles (like 10-foot high snow banks). This years race is no where near ‘back to normal”, but it is back on point to recognize what this day is all about for Bostonians; helping others who are in need. Once again, our streets will be filled with some of the best athletes in the world who are running for personal triumphs but most importantly, to help those that are less fortunate.
They say what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. As I type this, just a stone throw from here, ‘he who shall not be named’ stands trial for his atrocities on April 15, 2013. It is possible that the verdict of this trial may be handed down around the same time as the 119th Boston Marathon kicks off. Many survivors have sat through the proceedings, literally confronting their demon. These people are what give me strength. These people are why we love this city so much. This city has endured more than it deserves, but remains united to ‘run together’ again, proving that we were ‘Boston Strong’ before that day and remain forever strong because THAT is what the Boston Marathon has always been about; giving our strength in an effort to help others.
To all of the runners who toe the line on April 20, 2015, we wish you a safe and successful race. Look to your left as you cross the finish and grab your water and foil. We will be the ones on the balcony cheering and saluting your monumental achievement. Good luck!