It was supposed to be a long weekend of marathon madness, with at least three spring races taking place around the world. But last night, in the middle of watching exciting updates from the US about runners via instagram and twitter, a text message arrived from a friend in London: “Looks like Boston Mara hit by terrorists.”
What? At first I half thought it might be a joke, but then I realised no, no way would my friend, a runner and marathon devotee, joke about something like that!
I loaded the BBC news website and was immediately fed live streaming images from Boston, and as the newsreader described, ‘scenes of confusion’. I didn’t really know what to make of it all but the pictures of injured people being pushed away from the finishing line in wheel chairs, and the volunteers in blue & yellow bibs sprinting back and forth amid smoke and debris, made the message sink in: this is serious.
Immediately my thoughts turned to the runners from Hawaii that I knew had flown out to run in the Boston Marathon. A spring marathon is always a big date in the diary, and I knew that their preparations had been going well. Qualifying for the Boston Marathon is a huge deal. Using whatever means I could, which was actually Facebook, I was quite quickly able to establish that at least three or four were all ok and accounted for. Luckily they had been able to update their Facebook pages!!
Reading this morning from London that three people are reported dead, and many more are injured in Boston, just makes me feel terribly sad. How and when people start to make decisions that actually involve causing damage and destruction, is hard to fathom. In response we must all continue to act positively and spread the word of peaceful resolution. As Gandhi once said, ‘An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind’.
Tragically Brighton Marathon in the UK on Sunday was also hit by a sad event, the death of a young runner, Sam Harper Brighouse. It is suspected that Sam died after a cardiac arrest. People are still donating to the charity he was running for: Arms Around the Child.
The North Shore Marathon on Oahu, Sunday, was thankfully untarnished. The good news is that many runners set personal best times in Hawaii, and then were soon online to wish their friends in Boston well wishes!
If anything, the strength and commitment of runners to each other, their shared sport and to the events that give space and time to express abilities, has become more visible than usual this weekend. The sense and feeling of a ‘running family’ and the connections that runners build around the world are no more evident than when people are drawn together to overcome adversity.
Just as we saw last year in New York, in Boston yesterday, and I’m sure in London this Sunday, runners will continue do what they do best – move outside their comfort zone to be a good force in the world.