FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Terrorism has hit us again, and this time it hit home. Monday’s bombs at the Boston Marathon rocked my community, my friends and my extended family.
Fortunately, all of the runners and workers from Fairfield County at the race escaped unharmed. I am thankful for that but can’t shake the sadness from the deaths and injuries incurred by other families.
For most of us, this was not our first experience with terrorism. And it will not be the last. If terrorists think they will prevent runners from doing what they love, they are sadly mistaken.
If there is one thing I know about runners, it is that their resolve is unparalleled. Whether a marathoner finishes in two, three or seven hours, there is an obsessive determination to see things through. You can question many things about runners, starting with their sanity. You can never question their heart. The same can be said of the rest of endurance nation, including the cyclists, the swimmers, the triathletes. We don’t back down. Ever.
That’s what the terrorists who planted the bombs Monday in Boston don’t understand. They killed three people. They did not kill any runner’s determination to run the Boston Marathon.
The grief is real. Families of the dead and injured have had their lives changed forever. Runners were affected, too. The Boston Marathon is their Super Bowl. For most of them, it completes a lifetime of striving to meet Boston’s rigorous qualifying standards. This is their day, their reward, their time. The run down Boylston Street, where the bombs exploded, feels like reaching the top of the mountain. It is, for most runners, the best athletic experience they will have in their lifetimes.
Now it has all changed. The Boston Marathon will now be a day where everyone – runners, officials, spectators, medical personnel – will walk around on egg shells wondering whether a bomb is planted nearby.
But it will not deter runners, it will embolden them. Many runners would join the race tomorrow if they could. And when the terrorist is found, it would take me 26.2 seconds to find 26 runners willing drag the sorry carcass of the animal that blew up an 8-year-old one mile each from Hopkinton to Boston.
Certainly this hurts everyone in the running community. Those of us who have run Boston feel for the families, the runners and the race. We are sad, shocked and angry. But we are not defeated. We will be back, stronger and more determined than ever.
Terrorists may have won this battle. They killed an 8-year-old boy, a 29-year-old woman and a Boston University graduate student. But they did not win the war. Every runner who has ever laced up a sneaker will see to that.