After the bombings at the Boston marathon 365 days ago (my report here), I might argue that running changed too. Whether clear check bags, actually validating bib numbers on shuttle buses, or tight security on the course, the physical changes at large races are very obvious. Less obvious are the changes in people’s attitudes – both runners and not. The police “disabled” (read: blew up) a suspicious package at the finish line after a mentally disturbed man claimed he had a bomb in his backpack – an event that made national news for two days.
Change isn’t all bad though, it is just different. The change created visibility to the sport that it didn’t have before – regardless of what we might think in our runner centric bubble. As an example, I met one of my 70+ year old neighbor for the first time last night. Her Boston accent was so strong that I could have sworn I saw chowda coming out of her ears. What was she wearing? A Boston Strong T-Shirt. I can almost guarantee that she couldn’t have told me that the marathon was on April 15th last year… but this year she was telling me all about “that cute little blond girl with the Irish name” (Shalane Flanagan).
The good thing is that life goes on. Just like all tragedies, you never forget, but you don’t let it break you. 18 hours after the bombings, I was Sam Adams brewery 10ish miles away from the bombing site. There was little I could do at the finish line and I wasn’t going to let anyone stop me from doing what I wanted to do.
In the past year, we’ve seen runners unite under the common cause of supporting each other by doing what they love – what we love. We’ve seen group runs raising money for victims or recovery efforts. We’ve even seen more than a few people grab that old pair of “yard work shoes” from the corner of the garage and see if they could run down to the end of the block without stopping….shortly followed by realizing how accomplished it made them feel.
Monday is the 118th Boston Marathon – 365 days after the last. I won’t be there, but I’ll be watching. Watching the runners, but focusing on the thousands of people who have made the event possible for longer than airplanes existed. 117 years of running thus far. Through the power and spirit of everyone, I’m sure it will go on for that many more. No matter what happens on Monday.