Three were killed, hundreds were injured and thousands were cheated.
I’ve never run the Boston Marathon. I’ve never even been to Boston, but like so many other runners around the nation, I felt connected in a way.
As thousands of others in the running community, I awoke with excitement for last year’s Boston Marathon. I turned the television on and observed all the pre-race hype before taking in the actual event.
Spoiled by modern technology, it was the only time in years I can recall staring at a program broadcast in standard definition for longer than 20 seconds. I remember finding it hard to believe there are still major television stations that haven’t transitioned to high definition yet, but the somewhat obscure Universal Sports remains cemented in the Stone Age to this day.
Still, from start to finish, I took it all in. Soon it would become crystal clear, however, the race no longer mattered.
At 1:49 p.m. — 4:09:43 after the most prestigious marathon in America and possibly the world began — two bombs exploded near the finish line, killing three and injuring more than 250 others with at least 14 people requiring amputations. An unprecedented manhunt ensued as law enforcement searched for the two suspects.
In the end, one was killed and one was captured, putting an end to the insanity.
It is a true American tragedy, and one I could somewhat identify with.
The timing of the explosions more or less coincided with my marathon pace. I recently completed a marathon in 4:19:55, meaning I would have still been on the course when the bombs went off.
Luckily, I wasn’t, but many were approaching the final push toward the finish line at that moment, and due to circumstance, they were unable to complete the race.
While nothing compares to the physical, emotional and psychological damages suffered on that day, as a runner, I feel for those who were forced to quit.
For many, the dream of crossing the finish line was ripped away. Again, this is miniscule in the big picture, but it is a painful reality for more than 5,000 people.
Speaking from experience, running a marathon is not easy and it is not done on the spur of the moment.
Months and months of training is required to complete 26.2 miles, and unlike other races, the Boston Marathon requires participants to qualify by completing other specific marathons in an allotted time. For 2014, men ages 18-34 must have finished a qualifying marathon in 3:05:00, while women in the same age group must have a time of 3:35:00 or less.
It comes down to running a 7:04 mile for the men, while the women must average 8:12 per mile. Trust me, it is not easy.
After all their work, it is estimated 5,633 people were robbed of the chance to cross the finish line and complete a journey that is typically years in the making.
This year, runners who were unable to finish last year’s race were welcomed back to compete in this year’s competition, and I can only imagine the conglomeration of emotions they will feel on the course.
Some day, I hope to run along the hallowed streets of Boston, but until then, I will live vicariously through those who return to complete what they started. Monday’s race will be the first time since last year I spend extended time watching a standard definition program, but I guarantee the feelings of accomplishment for those who are back for a second time to complete the course just once will be vivid enough to leap off the screen.
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org