Thursday, April 25, 2013

Boston Marathon: A tribute to the runners

In keeping with my usual pattern of procrastination, I’m belatedly chiming in over a week after the ghastly happenings at the Boston Marathon. Not that I have anything to add that has not already been said. Really, what remains to be said? From the excitement and thrill of following some of my best friends/running buddies (via BAA's AthleteAlert) as they competed (or spectated) at arguably the ‘world’s greatest marathon’ to the horror of the bombing in seconds. The mad scramble to check and double check that everyone you know is unharmed. The relentless questions of Why? How? Who? The outpouring of support for the unsuspecting victims. Riding the aftermath in silence, watching the story play out in the media while you process your feelings, and try to imagine what is going on in the minds of the people involved, the people closest to the tragedy.

While struggling with the dark, confusing, fearful thoughts that arise out of a tragic event, it's always  heart-warming to see courageous, magnanimous acts by people, rising above the negativity, infusing hope, doggedly determined to leave the horror behind.

There is anger, confusion. Talking about the race, the results and the spectacular performances of talented runners when the country is still mourning, may be considered disrespectful, distasteful at the very least. Tentative news articles of the winners and analyses of the race are just starting to trickle in, prefaced and shadowed by news of the bombing. Boston Marathon 2013 will forever remain tainted by this horrible turn of events. As if the race was just a footnote.

But I can’t help thinking of the runners. Some of the most dedicated on the planet (in the country, at least). I've had the honor of training with some of them; dreamed of being in their sweaty running shoes someday. Months of preparation, toil, tears and sacrifice leading up to the day; overcoming injury and illness along the way; way more devoted to the sport than amateur runners with full-time jobs and families can afford to be. Pouring their heart into every step of the race. The anxiety and excitement of negotiating a tough course for 26.2 miles. Full of anticipation for the finish. And finally robbed of their moment of celebration. Anxiety for the perfect finish replaced by anxiety for the safety of their loved ones. BAA is still figuring out how to handle non-finishers, provide adjusted times for those who were diverted or asked to stop the race mid-course. There will be age-group awards, as there are, for every race. But the satisfaction of crossing the finish line did not happen - for thousands of runners. And for those who finished, the wildly ecstatic, congratulatory messages, handshakes and high fives at the end of the race were replaced by a somber “Are you safe?” There will be no exhilarating race recaps. The PRs went unnoticed, the tales of triumph uncelebrated. None of it mattered anymore. An unconsummated race.

We move on, even as we continue to be weighed down by the tragedy. Runners are resilient, hard to intimidate. Passionate people, riding a tidal wave of endorphin. The bombing only fueled the wave. A number of runners are already clamoring to race Boston Marathon 2014. Races will continue to happen. And there will always be hope that evil can be erased by stories of courage and compassion.


Anonymous said...

Here here! Well said, Kavi.

I Run for Fun said...

Thank you, Lianne!

Nitya said...

well written Kavita.