When I heard about the bombing at the Boston Marathon like many others, I was in such shock. One of my first thoughts was for the runners, my next thought was of my husband, my support person, the guy who is at the finish line of every race waiting for me while I'm off running. It was those people that died. The spectators who make the races a little more fun. The family and friends who support your crazy training schedule and your odd eating habits. For many Boston is the pinnacle of marathon running.
I have learned over the past two years that the running community is a tight knit group. This week it was shaken. We were knocked off our feet. Even though we are 3000 miles away we are affected. The need to help and do something was strong. But what?
The answer came in a email, and facebook post on monday night. The triathlon club I belong to was going to do a group run to show solidarity on Wednesday night. The run was to be a slow jog, around the waterfront loop, that is about 2.5 miles. It started out as a 'club event' with the words "This is an open invitation to the entire running community so if you have friends... Please respond to this post and repost so others can read it and bring your friends" The hope was that we'd have about 50, maybe 100 people show up.
Word spread, and the running community came together. By Tuesday morning the reply list was already at 100, and growing quick. The "maybes" was up there too. Then there was a post on the page from the local news station asking that someone contact them. They wanted to do a story on it. Tuesday night the story was on the local news, by morning three news stations, and the radio where running it. The rsvp numbers were growing strong. The event was going to be BIG!
Portland has a lot of running clubs and groups in the area. As this was a short slow run many of the groups planned to meet at different locations and 'run' to the start. The response was over whelming. As a race team member for our club, we were asked to help with this event as it had become so big.
One of my jobs was to hand out bib numbers to people. One of the ladies I handed one to had a Boston Marathon shirt on. Most of these shirts look the same, year after year, you have to look at the date on them. Hers said 2013. I asked if she was able to finish the race. Her response touched me. She said "no, but it really doesn't matter".
Two of the club board members spoke to the crowds. They had a scripted speech written that was very moving, and uplifting. They asked that we join hands for 3 moments of silence. One for the first responders, one for the dead, and one for the injured. There was a very moving singing of the national anthem. Then the Board members took the american flag to the front of the crowd and started the run.
The group stretched out over the entire east bank of the water front. As I ran over the bridge I could see the enormity of the people that showed up to show solidarity to Boston. About 1,000 runners stretched out over a mile long!
As we finished the run the race team members and a few others created a 'shoot' for the rest of the runners to run thru giving high fives as they came in. We stayed and cheered for every last one. The last lady walked to whole way with a small american flag, and pushing a walker.
I was humbled by the show of humanity and how supportive the running community is. Marathoners, like triathletes, are endurance runners. For many it's about going the distance, doing the miles, getting it done. It's not always about how fast you can run but how long you can keep going. We push ourselves, we fall, we get hurt, we get back up and we keep going. We keep pushing on. We see some one struggling on a run and we empathize, encourage, support, and will stop our own run to help if needed. I am proud and honored to be part of such a group.