There have been countless different prayers that I’ve sent up to God during my years as a runner: “Please God, help me get to the top of this hill.”
“Please God, let my iPod be fully charged.”
“Please God, let me make it to the bathroom in time.”
But never in all my years have I even thought to pray: “Please God – keep the finish line free of exploding devices.”
The tragedy at the Boston Marathon hits hard on so many levels. For one, that race is the granddaddy of them all – the event that epitomizes what it means to succeed as a marathoner. To make an attack on the world’s oldest annual marathon – arguably one of the world’s premiere running events – is a sock in the gut to distance runners everywhere.
For another, the fact that an innocent child was taken weighs heavily upon us as parents. There have been times, during races, that I feared I might pass by my children without seeing them along the sidelines. Never, ever, did it even cross my mind to fear that I might not see them again – ever.
And another attack on U.S. soil in a major city? Unfathomable. Our minds reel with questions and our hearts sink with grief.
Last year, when Boston temperatures skyrocketed and thousands of eligible runners opted not to participate, I thought that was about the saddest marathon story I’d ever heard – trumped only by the decision to cancel the 2012 New York City Marathon in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Reading the news updates in shocked disbelief that an act of terror had actually taken place at the finish line Boston Marathon … I don’t have the words to cover all the emotions.
I have to say, though, these terrorist obviously underestimate marathoners. If they think that the fear from these explosions will in any way deter us from the sport we love, they clearly don’t understand runners.
We are athletes who compete in the most extreme conditions on the planet. We are athletes who train through all sorts of pain. We don’t stop until we cross the finish line … or are found delirious or unconscious. We run until our feet, our blisters, sometimes even our nipples bleed. We are dedicated and disciplined. We will persevere.
My prayer as a mother is that all those who were hurt or lost loved ones in the Boston Marathon explosions will know peace and healing in the days and weeks to come. My prayer as an American is that the people responsible for this unspeakable tragedy will be quickly put to justice. And my prayer, as a marathoner, is forever changed – “Please God, let us be swift, let us be strong, and let us be safe. Amen.”
By Laura Broullire