As I got home from my evening training run and walked through the front door, Andy waved at me frantically from the living room. “You’ve got to see this”, he said with a grave expression on his face. I slumped onto the sofa in front of the TV, out of breath and sweating in my running gear, and watched with disbelieving eyes as people dressed just like me were thrown to the ground by the force of the explosion ripping through the crowds at the Boston Marathon finish line.
As a human being, I was horrified. As a mum, it was another scary thing on the news I didn’t want my son to see. As a runner, I was shocked and angry that someone could attack these people putting every ounce of effort into completing the distance, and the friends and family supporting them. As a runner, I identified with these people; I knew what they were going through and how hard they had worked to reach that finish line. As a runner, I knew the importance of the support of those around them to encourage and push them through their training, and the race. Attack one runner, or their family, and you attack all of us.
I took to Twitter, as the world seems to do at times like this, and posted that very sentiment with the hashtag #RunnersUnitedForBoston. Within minutes my notifications lit up with retweets and new followers from America, Canada, Hong Kong, all around the world. I had clearly struck a chord, and a quick scroll through the Tweets of others showed many similar messages of strength and defiance from the running community.
And that is what I love about running – being part of that community and having a sense of belonging to that group of people who ‘get it’. Running should be fun – hard work, but fun. It’s about a sense of achievement, and bettering yourself, and sharing your triumphs with others. It’s about making new friends, reaching new highs, and supporting each other through the lows. It’s about the simple pleasure of high-fiving children sticking their little arms out of the cheering crowds lining the streets, just as you start to struggle in a race, and the boost it gives you to push on.
All of this is why, in spite of the fear that whoever perpetrated the bombings hoped to instil in people, a field of thousands of strong and determined runners will line up for Sunday’s London Marathon. They will be cheered to the end by masses of people along the route, refusing to be beaten by the evil acts of others. And I’m sure I won’t be the only runner to give a few moments’ thought to the brave people of Boston when I’m lucky enough to next cross a finish line.