My first thought went out to the runners. As a marathoner myself, I understand the pure joy of simply being in a race, but this wasn’t just any other weekend marathon; this was Boston. In my opinion, the Boston Marathon is the premier long-distance race in the United States. I know everyone has that one race where they set their PR or that one vacation getaway that they go to every year. Nevertheless, there’s a reason why all races are compared to Boston: they’re either Boston Qualifiers or they’re not. I can only imagine the thrill of actually qualifying for Boston, let alone running it. These runners had trained long and hard to participate, and now many of them lay injured on the ground, some perhaps unable to ever run again.
My second thought was about the time. When I heard that the bombs exploded about 3 hours after the winners crossed the finish line, I realized “that would have been me!“. My average pace for a marathon is a little over 5 hours, so assuming that the winners would have crossed the finish line between 02:30 and 03:00, then one of those runners injured could very well have been me. And then as I thought more about the time, I realized that whoever planted this bomb had thought things through. After roughly five hours the finish line would be somewhat crowded with finishers, families, and cheer squads encouraging the somewhat slower racers. This terrorist understood how races work and used it to his advantage. The thought sickened me.
My next thought went out to the emergency personnel. It was here that America demonstrated that heroes still exist. Too often we think that heroes have some supernatural ability or multimillion-dollar tactical armor. They wear capes and disguises and live lives apart from the rest of us. And yet, as the bombs exploded and the innocent were injured and the cameras of the major news networks spread the news to every corner of the globe, we saw the true definition of heroism. A hero is simply someone who runs toward danger instead of away from it.
I’m sure that in the weeks to come more information will come to light. Perhaps other targets will be uncovered, suspects may be taken into custody, and motives become clear. But until then, the thoughts and prayers of a nation are with the people of Boston and the victims of this tragic day.