Just 18 people ran the first Boston Marathon 116 years ago. Nearly ten times as many were injured or killed when the country's most prestigious race was bombed Monday.
The bombs exploded just after the race's four-hour mark, before which only about 40 percent of the race's 20,000 runners could have finished the marathon. Thousands of people didn't have a chance to finish.
Even to qualify for Boston, runners need to be among the best in the world. Qualifying times are mind-blowing. Finishing the marathon is the kind of thing people list among their lifetime accomplishments.
So when I read this op-ed by Newsday's Lane Filler, I was taken aback. It's a bold commitment, because even to qualify, you have to run at least one other major marathon. It's the pinnacle of a marathoner's career, not the starting point.
But Filler is hardly alone. Boston College professor Peter Krause said, "I have never run more than five miles in my entire life," but he committed to the marathon in the campus newspaper. So did this Toronto doctor, a four-time champion, and this New York rabbi.
But for those of us—including me—who are less confident in our abilities to finish 26.2 miles in four hours, there are plenty of alternatives. 500 marathons happen worldwide every year, many of which have no qualifying requirements. Other folks have committed to attending the Boston Marathon as spectators alongside family and friends, like 500,000 people already do every year. The marathon is consistently New England's most crowded sporting event.
And if you're feeling the immediacy of this tragedy (and less than confident in your ability to run 26.2 miles ever), find a solidarity run in your city this —in Portland tonight, in D.C. on Saturday, and in Buffalo on Sunday. Some races will collect donations for rebuilding efforts, but of course it's about symbolism, like the resuming of Major League Baseball after 9/11. It's a demonstration proving that we're not scared, even though we may be.
Running is special because it's not confined to a baseball stadium or a skyscraper. We can run in every city, down every street and up every trail, with nothing but a good stretch and a pair of shoes, and this week we can do so thinking of Boston. Lace up.
Click here to add running for Boston to your GOOD "to-do" list.