Triathlete magazine Editor-in-Chief Julia Polloreno writes about the tragic events of April 15’s Boston Marathon.
Like a lot of people, I sit numb and dazed and hollow, still reeling from the unconscionable violence that exploded on the streets of Boston yesterday and grasping at feeble efforts to draw any sense from the senseless. And like so many others right now, especially within the endurance sport community, I feel profoundly connected to each and every one of the runners whose Boston dream was shattered with a madman’s blasts, and to the spectators who came to celebrate one of the grandest spectacles in all of sport but suffered an unimaginable trauma they are only beginning to process. My gut and heart ache for the innocent eight-year-old boy, Martin Richard, who came to watch his daddy run and whose sweet, smiling face and broad, brown eyes now flash across television screens as reporters memorialize his stolen life. It wasn’t supposed to happen. None of it was.
It’s hard to focus on anything else right now. My head is in Boston. One of the most significant, formative experiences in my adult life was a four-year stint working for the Boston Athletic Association, the organizer of the Boston Marathon, as the media coordinator. I served on the Organizing Committee for the race and was part of a tight-knit, industrious group of people who lived and breathed the Boston Marathon, not just in the months leading up to Patriot’s Day, but 365 days per year. The race was an immense source of pride to each and every one of us who got to be a part of its staging—I think we all knew we were part of something rare and special. Seeing this exceptionally complex event come together from the inside, learning about it’s storied history and witnessing the passion—dare I say obsession—so many people have for this footrace that symbolizes so much more was a privilege. I’m heartbroken for my former colleagues, who must grapple with the enormity of such unfathomable tragedy at their beloved Boston, and whose backs now bend beneath the crushing weight of a dense, dark cloud that appeared out of nowhere to blot out a brilliant sun.
But if there is one thing I’ve learned from living in Boston, it’s that its people—resilient, compassionate and tenacious to their core—won’t be kept down by fear or evil or terror. I keep hearing phrases along the lines of, “They picked the wrong race and the wrong city to mess with.” That reactionary bravado may comfort some, but I know what they’re really getting at: The Boston Marathon transcends sport—it’s an ideal as much as it is a 26.2-mile running race. It symbolizes the triumph of the human will and spirit over adversity. For 117 years it has signified a relentless resolve to persevere, to overcome in the face of fear, doubt and uncertainty. It will continue to embody all those values for the next 117 years.
After qualifying earlier this spring, I plan to be on the start line in Hopkinton next year. No doubt it will be an emotionally charged day, with a lot of still-raw wounds suffered by so many people. As the miles tick away and the challenge before me gets overwhelming, I’ll remind myself to just put one foot in front of the other until I get there. Because in Boston, that’s what you do.