Whether it is a walking or running marathon, participating in one is a celebration of the human spirit.
Marathons are often attempted by people to raise money for charity, to prove they have the will of a champion, or to show the world they haven’t been defeated.
Marathoners, even in wheelchairs, somehow make it through this daunting task, showing the rest of the world what the human spirit can really achieve.
When it comes to the 26.2 mile Boston marathon, most of us cannot fathom the physical pain some of these runners must feel going the distance or the triumph they experience finishing it. Some of the world’s great athletes can zip through these distances in alarmingly short periods of time (the record is seconds above 2 hours and 3 minutes!).
This triumphant mood was dented in an vicious way on Monday when bombs rattled the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Established in 1897, it’s the world’s oldest and the first after the 1896 Olympics introduced the sport.
The Boston marathon takes place every year on Patriot’s Day, which commemorates the battles of Lexington and Concord. It’s the first day Americans fought the occupying British forces on a large scale.
Trying to Defeat the Beauty of the Human Spirit
Everything about these events speaks to the beauty of humanity. On the one hand, you have runners from all over the world vying for national glory. On the other, you have thousands of success stories from the unknown marathoners, the people who struggle to qualify and hope to bring awareness (and charitable donations) to their cause dear to their hearts.
As humans, we don’t get much better than that, marrying a terrific athletic feat with compassion for others. What will every marathoner think from now on as they cross the finish line? Will they think about achieving the impossible and making a statement about their world? Or will they think about what might happen crossing the finish line…as many of us did boarding an airplane following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
It’s clear the bomber(s) wanted to disrupt the tide of goodwill and replace it with an ugly alternative….
How We Mourn, and How We Respond
Terrorism’s aim is to put doubt into every movement we make. Instead of celebrating an injured veteran finishing a marathon, we are shocked to see a young boy die. Instead of marveling at the ability of an elderly man to achieve such a remarkable time, we see him crumble to the ground when the air is filled with an explosion. The bombers want us to fear the times we cherish above all.
Coming from a country that did rise at Lexington and Concord, that did return after 9/11, that continues to temper power with morality, I don’t see any of those things happening. Terrorists want to take us off our game – to make us fearful to walk the streets, to complete marathons and support the causes dear to us. It’s not going to happen.
They want us to bow down to an uglier way of thinking, to a way of life where marathons don’t take place, where charities don’t exist. They won’t win.
In fact, in the wake of the blast, before the smoke had cleared, bystanders ran into the destruction to help–without thinking of their own safety. Of course, these people are heroes. And words cannot do them justice. Their selfless actions represent all that is good in humanity.
On April 28, I will do a local Walk with Israel to celebrity Israel’s 65th anniversary. I can’t say the horrible events of Boston won’t be on my mind. Yet that’s not going to stop me or others from walking, just as it won’t change the spirit of most Americans. You give us a challenge, and you can bet we’ll take it up.
Along these lines, I previously have written about our wounded warriors going on an epic marathon walk in the face of horrible injuries: http://flowalking.com/2013/03/the-will-to-walk-hurt-soldiers-plan-epic-foot-race/.
I’m sure you’ll see some of the injured and wounded back for the 2014 Boston Marathon. It would be a beautiful thing. Though, some people will not be able to be there and a few are no longer with us. My deepest prayers go out to their families and friends. For the rest of us, we didn’t back down at Lexington and Concord. We won’t back down now.
R.I.P. Martin Richard, Lingzi Lu and Krystie Campbell