On Monday morning 36,000 people will toe the starting line in Hopkington, Massachusetts and run to Boston. The number is higher this year. The Boston Athletic Association has let runners who were unable to finish last year back to finish what they started last year. As you recall 4 hours after the start of the race two bombs went off near the finish line. 2 people were killed on the site and hundreds more were injured.
For marathoners, Boston is a Mecca. You earn the right to run the Boston Marathon. Finishing a marathon is an achievement. To qualify to run Boston you have to finish a marathon in under a Boston qualifying (BQ) time. I have finished 9 marathons. None have been close to a BQ time.
I will always remember the shock of that day. We work so hard to run a marathon. Our running marathons does not threaten anyone in any way. Running that far is a challenge. It takes commitment. It takes focus. And yes, it takes a little courage to tackle the training and the distance. It took an act of cowardice and hatred to stop it. That act of cowardice and hatred was countered by bravery and love.
My friend Mike La Mere is a Physical Therapist. He was working the finishers' medical tent at the finish line. Mostly these volunteers treat blisters and dehydration. Mike was treating three young soldiers for blisters. These young men had finished the 26.2 mile distance in full gear, boots and backpacks. They were all joking and kidding around about being little wimps for having to have their blisters treated. Wimps? These young men had seen war. They ran 26.2 miles in full gear, in less than 4 hours. These are brave young men. They are tough. They were celebrating.
Then, the bombs went off. These young men jumped up immediately and ran towards the explosions. They helped secure the area. Others headed towards the explosions to help the injured. Professionals went to work. There was organization in the chaos. Doctors, Emergency Medical Technicians, First Responders, and other medical professionals did what they were trained to do. It was miraculous that so many lives were saved. It was more than that. It was courage, love and professionalism.
So, this year as those 36,000 runners, including truck drivers, head towards Boston cheer for them. Celebrate their accomplishment. To paraphrase Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz, THIS IS OUR TRUCKIN' RACE. Let all the runners race in peace this year. Let's be inspired by what these runners are accomplishing. Let's admire everyone who rushed to the aid of the victims. Then we will do what we do here. We will get on with our lives.