If there’s one thing those running the streets of Boston this morning aren’t lacking, it’s determination. The will of the individuals who voluntarily choose to run 26.2 continuous miles is nothing to mess with.
For all the tragedy and trauma caused by last year’s bombings on Boylston Street, if the Tsarnaev brothers thought their actions were going to do anything but bolster the resiliency of those runners and the city of Boston itself, they were incredibly misinformed.
Boston has a long history of persistence in the face of anguish. This is the same city that dumped tea into the ocean in defiance of undue taxation by the British. The same city that for 86 years lived and died with a Red Sox team synonymous with heartbreak, until this past decade – winning three World Series in ten years.
If sporting events provide any expression of a city’s character, the sounds inside the TD Garden and Fenway Park days after the bombings demonstrated Boston’s engrained determination.
As someone who recreationally runs five miles every other day or so, I know level of self-motivation – not easily attained – that pushes one out of bed and on to the streets first thing in the morning. But this doesn’t nearly compare with the people who train year-round to run entire marathons. It is a strange and incredible combination of neuroticism and resolve, rebellion and pride that compels a person to run a marathon. I can only imagine, having felt the sense of achievement from trotting ten miles on a Sunday afternoon, the level of gratification upon finishing a marathon after months of training.
Taking away that opportunity away from more than 5,700 devoted and exhausted individuals seems like an injustice. Taking away the life of three individuals is a far more reprehensible crime.
Yet despite the physical and emotional trauma, the notion that the bombings would permanently dishearten individuals who tackle the self-inflicted trauma of running for hours on end is far off.
The Boston Marathon is a long tradition, a holiday even, in a city that has an even longer tradition of resiliency. If there was any sporting event that was built to bounce back from tragedy, the Boston Marathon is it.
The bombings of last year give us just one more reason to run, emboldening the will of a city and of individuals already ironclad. Thirty-six thousand people will run the 2014 Boston Marathon, as more than a million line the race course, cheering them on. One more opportunity to demonstrate our collective strength, as runners, as Americans and as human beings.