In the past week, I, like many others inside and outside of the running community have gone through a myriad of emotions. Fear, sadness, anger, frustration, confusion, relief, and many others.
And I have been asked by many (non-runner) coworkers if I still plan to run.
The answer is yes. Of course I will still run. Admittedly, I don’t do a lot of big city races, but I will be at Baltimore later this year and I will show up at many other start lines. This won’t stop me.
But I don’t know how I feel about my friends and family members waiting for me at the finish. While I can only hope this was a one-time thing, the crazy amounts of press it got make this an appealing location for terrorist attacks. Last week, there was also an earthquake in China and a terrifying explosion in Texas (and other events I’m missing), but the headlines were still about Boston. Of course, if you let fear rule, the terrorists win, but maybe I’d prefer my family be elsewhere on the course. That’s usually what they do anyway, as the crowds at the finish make it hard to see people. But that’s where I stand right now.
Talking with some runner friends this weekend, I think that the reason this hits the running community so hard is that they didn’t attack us. They attacked our friends and family. From what I understand, most, if not all of the seriously injured people were spectators. Some of them were out cheering for friends and family, but a number of them were just out cheering for the runners. But I’m sure that all of them, whether or not they knew a runner participating in the race, were cheering for strangers as they passed.
And that’s the best part of a big city race. Baltimore. D.C. My favorite thing is all the random spectators out with signs, screaming at people they don’t know. If you look at pictures from races, lots of people run with their names printed in big letters across their chests. They want the spectators to yell for them. And yell they do. It’s awesome.
So these men didn’t attack us runners. No, they attacked our support crew. The people who are out there in any type of weather, yelling and cheering and doing everything they can to keep us motivated. The strangers who show up with snacks. The person who sees a struggling runner and yells “Hey green shirt! You’ve got this!” The people who make signs about terrible parades and velociraptors chasing you. People we don’t know and may never see again, but for one brief moment, they mean everything to us.
I hope this won’t stop them. It certainly won’t stop me going out to cheer at the Marine Corps Marathon later this year. It may just make me yell louder.