Many of us runners will never make it to the Boston marathon, but yesterday, all of our hearts were there.
And our hearts are broken.
While we may not have lined up at the iconic blue and yellow starting line, we’ve lined up at others. We’ve set out to chase down goals, we’ve pushed, we’ve paced, we’ve sweat, we’ve sworn, all in an effort to get to the finish line. What’s more, our family, our friends , our kids, have lined the sidewalks and waited, sometimes for hours, to cheer, support and make sure we get there. All this in the anticipation of something: satisfaction in a job well done; disappointment in a missed goal; celebration in achieving one; elation at just being there, in finishing; joy.
So yesterday’s bombing didn’t just hit Boston. It hit us all. Hard.
Within minutes of the blasts my inbox, my Face Book and my phone lit up — Had anyone heard anything from the 19 runners our run club had in Boston? “Where are they? Where are they? Where are they? Where are their families???” Eventually we heard they were all okay, at least physically. Some had long passed the finish line when the bombs went off, some missed the explosions by mere seconds. We are lucky.
But it wasn’t just my running family that united yesterday — it was bigger than that. The global running fraternity felt it too — runners, spectators, organizers, volunteers, first responders — all of us. And we grieve together.
Although, what comes from yesterday’s tragedy is not just devastation, but also stories of our community’s kinship: Marathoners running off the course to help the injured or running to the hospital post-race to give blood; Spectators carrying victims to medical tents and offering the jackets off their backs to cold, wet runners; Locals opening up their homes to people without a place to go; The list goes on.
I ran my very first marathon in Chicago in 2003 with my uncle and my cousin’s husband. My husband, my parents, my brother, my sister-in-law, my grandmother, my aunt and my cousins flew out from Toronto to cheer us on. While they were standing about 100 metres from the finish line waiting for me to cross, they saw a man in his sixties fall over. Two women in their twenties were ahead of him, stopped, turned around, went back, picked him up and carried him across the line. This is what runners do and this is what the finish line of a marathon has always been. A place filled with family, love and kinship.
Yesterday’s attack has marred that for us forever. But together we will get through it. Our hearts are with Boston tonight.
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