Running Strong: From A Boston Marathoner

This weekend only closed part of a chapter in what is going to be a long recovery for many of those touched by the Boston Marathon tragedy. As a runner, I’ve been absolutely floored at the comradery I’ve seen from our running community.

Just a few weeks ago I remember chatting with a good friend about his upcoming first marathon experience – Boston. When the news of the finish line explosion hit, we were all sickened by the senseless act of violence and thinking about the people running – especially those we knew personally.

Chad and I have known each other for years, and he was sweet enough to come out and tailgate for my first marathon in Atlanta to show support. I couldn’t have been more excited for his marathon and Boston race. Now I am incredibly proud to share his story from the day:

CstewartAs I prepared for the last turns –“right on Hereford, left on Boylston”– the road began to clutter with runners and then spectators. I pushed through many, dodging people with quick side steps. It was a few dozen feet before I realized a bus had blocked the street. I stopped in complete disbelief and full of anger. My watch read 25.7 miles. I took my headphones out to hear sounds that I can’t forget- sobs and scream of fear and anguish. A fellow runner told me there had been an explosion at the finish line. There were talks of a second explosion. Panic was shooting through the crowd as people were unable to reach loved ones who sat just a few hundred yards ahead. We were all so close but so removed and disconnected at the same time.

The events of that day are simply unfathomable and my heart goes out the victims and their families. The spectators are the heart and soul of this race. They line the streets of the whole course offering cheers, funny signs, high fives and inspiration to runners. It breaks my heart to think they were the target. Yet even in the face of disaster, they continued their support by offering clothing, shelter and showers, and any substance they could find in their kitchens to those on the street. In one instance, I sat with a man in his early 50s who laid face down in the street exhausted. He was shivering uncontrollably. A young lady came around with a pitcher she had filled with water and, without hesitation, took off her jacket and laid it across the man. She insisted that he not worry with returning it but simply pass it on when he no longer needed it and then she continued through the crowd with the pitcher. I can tell dozens of stories just like this. Boston should be proud.

While the magnitude of the events dwarf the personal battle that is a marathon, many who made it out safely still lost something that day. My heart goes out to the man I saw cry after he was unable to complete his 35th straight Boston Marathon. It also goes out the woman next to me who battled the blood that poured from her chin for 10+ miles and was robbed of finishing. It goes out to the over 5,000 runners that trained so hard and had to leave the course feeling defeated.

If the goal of the bombers was to incite fear, it didn’t work. They picked the wrong crowd and the wrong city. Runners are not going to let this slow them and next year it’s our turn to inspire the crowds. I know I’ll be “All in for Boston” in 2014.

***

Chad is even thinking about Chicago. This weekend, watching the London Marathoners race with their black ribbons was beautiful – touching.

My heart is sickened but I know the country, the world, and the running community will continue running miles and miles to show our strength for Boston.

How are you showing support?

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19 responses to “Running Strong: From A Boston Marathoner

  1. Wow, thank you for sharing your story, I sit here still in such a state of disbelief that this really happened in our city…but what I have to say constantly astonishes me are the beautiful stories that keep coming out from runners, from spectators, from unsung heroes. Out of tragedy has come such strength and beauty. An amazing thing, truly.

  2. Beautiful story. Thanks to you and your friend for sharing. Hearing the stories of good and unconditional giving that came out of these horrible events keeps me going. I hope the strength the running community has shown this past week never fades.

  3. Very sad, but very awesome how strong the running community has come together over this huh? Just found your blog. Very inspirational post!
    emma @ amomrunsthistown.com

  4. I signed up for my fall marathon Sunday night. More committed than ever. I went to the moment of silence on Boylston Street yesterday. It was totally silent. I had to go even if I pissed of my boss.
    We are Boston Strong and we will run our humble little race again next year.
    Thank you for the story. I hope Chad comes back to Bostonsoon.

  5. I love this and so proud of Chad. What an amazing story. Looking forward to hearing about next years event

  6. I love your tribute and perspective…it is still shocking to me that this happened, more than a week later. As I hear about friends’ family members or friends and their injuries and the extent of them, it just saddens me so much, in addition to the loss of life. SO unecessary.

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