Running a marathon is always special (at least for the runner) and running the Boston Marathon, the oldest and most elite marathon, is even more so. Last year however it turned from euphoria to disaster in just a few minutes altering the lives of hundreds caught up in the bombing.
I was one of the lucky ones, finishing just ahead of the explosions but many of the runners I know were not so lucky. A number of them have family members who were injured in the blast and many more were not able to finish, getting stuck out on the course when they shut down the race.
For those runners, coming back to run the race this year was not a question at all. Every runner I spoke with emphatically planned to return and finish what they started, not just for themselves but in memory and support of all the people who were injured or killed. They were not alone. Runners from around the world went online to voice their support of Boston and pledge to be there this year. The message was clear, we won’t let a few attention seeking, maniacal, weak minded, hate mongering, idiots(I may have gotten a little carried away here…or not) intimate us into being afraid. And it didn’t stop there. I predict there will be more spectators on the course this year than in the history of the race.
At this point you might think “There can’t be that many crazy people out there who not only want to run a marathon but will work there butt’s off to try to qualify.” It’s a testament to the human race that diversity has spawn enough of us to more than fill the rosters at Boston. In fact, the BAA expanded the field for just this year from 27,000 to 36,000 to accommodate the increased interest in participating. To give the fastest runners first shot at entry they stagger the registration based on how many minutes you are under your qualifying time (20 minutes under first, then 10 minutes under, then 5 minutes under). Despite the increase, all but 5000 of the slots were filled by runners who were at least 5 minutes under their qualifying time, and thousands of runners who qualified and sent in applications were not able to get in.
So another year but not just another marathon for me. This one will be special for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which I will be running for Help in the Nick of Time to raise funds for families impacted by the bombing. I can’t think of a better way to help others, honor those we have lost and offer a middle finger to those that would try to take away our freedoms.