You probably stopped on Monday. We all did. Whatever any of us were doing, when we heard the news of the Boston Marathon bombings, our afternoon came to a halt. Perhaps because, as a nation, we are still licking our wounds, post 9/11. Or perhaps because we shared the pain, fear and panic that connects us as humans.
Questions raced through our heads: Was this the work of foreign terrorists? Have the authorities caught anyone? How many were injured, or worse, killed? Not again, we hoped.
Waves of Fear, Acts of Heroism
In our San Diego office, DMV.org employees gathered in the conference room to discuss what we had so far learned and how we felt. Stories of heroism poured out. We’d heard about participants who continued running to a nearby hospital to donate blood after crossing the finish line. We’d heard about one surgeon who finished the race, ran straight to his hospital, and was performing surgeries for 16 hours.
Today, we heard from one of our own DMV.org team members, Ryan Looney who lives in Boston. He reported, “We’ve been on lockdown since four in the morning with the majority of the city, and we’re glued to the news coverage. Boston is like a big, tough bubble of a town, and that bubble was burst on Monday afternoon. Over the past several days the city’s collective mood has gone from shocked, to sad, to angry, to sad again, to a strong sense of resolve that we’re not going to let random acts of terror break down our communities. As today’s manhunt unfolds, I am sad for the young officer who was killed early this morning but relieved that the good guys have identified the bad guys. I am refreshing Facebook and checking my phone every few minutes to hear the latest from friends and family, and hoping the end is very near. But it’ll take awhile to make any sense of Monday’s events, and it would take an eternity to understand what makes anyone target innocent civilians on a day of celebration.”
From afar, one might think Boston is shaken to the core. Yet despite the pandemonium, Looney said Boston’s spirit thrives.
Patriots’ Day Devastation
So what can we do? Perhaps we start by walking a mile in the runners’ shoes. Massachusetts has been running the Boston Marathon every third Monday of April since 1897. The reason: To celebrate Patriots’ Day. It’s never been an easy race, by any stretch, and in fact is the only race in the country that maintains qualifying times and requirements. For instance, male runners ages 18 to 34 must complete a qualifying marathon within the 18 months leading up to Boston with a 3:05 finishing time. For women of the same age group, it’s 3:35.
Some runners trained for years to make the cut, while many can only dream of qualifying for Boston. For those who reached the starting line on Monday, the buzz was naturally intense. The collective energy of fellow runners who also put countless hours into training was enough to fuel a freight train. And when the starting gun fired, the crowd of anxious participants exploded into the streets. Smiles on their faces and butterflies in their stomachs, the runners jockeyed for position, then settled into their pace.
Mile after mile, runners felt the impact of their feet striking pavement. But visions of a glorious finish kept their legs moving. Then the epic emotional and physical journey, the triumph that comes with crossing the finish line, soon warped into a race to safety. Screams pierced the air as runners and spectators fell victim to shrapnel. Fear rose and confidence faltered. Their hearts, first racing from the excitement of starting a journey on foot, began pounding out of fear.
Their fear became our fear as we waited to hear the latest developments. And soon the panic in the streets of Boston blasted into our own homes, businesses and schools.
The Triumph of Human Spirit
Now four days later, and after another horrendous tragedy in West, Texas, our nation is slowly picking itself back up. We’re donating blood, collecting money, helping those still dusting themselves off, and getting back to our daily grind. But perhaps the days ahead can be different, as we are different having endured an impossible week. Perhaps we can continue uplifting our country, our world, by uplifting ourselves.
What inspires a person to run a 26.2-mile race lives in all of us. It manifests in musicians as music, in painters as art, in writers as stories, in every human as passion. You don’t have to be hitting the trails to experience a runner’s high, to be moved by something greater than yourself. You just need heart.
Join the Movement
Run with Your Passion, Whatever that Might Be
To give the Boston Marathoners the finish they deserved, and to lift the human spirit as a whole, we ask that you join us next Monday, April, 29, at noon EST for an event we’re calling Run with It. All you have to do is exactly what you love. If you’re a runner, run. If you’re a yogi, get on your mat. If you’re a dog lover, grab a leash and take your furry friend to the park. Whatever your passion might be, join us Monday and run with it. Run with it for them, for all of us.
If you wish to donate money to help the victims, please be aware MANY fake charities are popping up online. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino have announced the formation of The One Fund Boston Inc. Please donate here instead.
Please also note all of the area hospitals have more than enough blood. They’re asking donors to set up a blood donation appointment in the near future when they’ll need to replenish the city’s supply.