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Tragedy strengthens camaraderie, resiliency of runners

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POSTED April 17, 2013 1:49 a.m.

When I make an online purchase to replenish leader, fly-tying materials or new fly line, I imagine rivers and forests. I’m happy.

But Monday night it was hard to be giddy after completing my order, especially if the channel was turned to one of the many stations re-reporting the bombing in Boston.

I’ve run two marathons and know how emotionally wiped one can become after running 26.2 miles. After my first one, I ducked under a table in the medical tent and passed out. A nice dude tapped me on the shoulder, asked if I was okay, fed me some salt and I was back. Sort of.

You’re vulnerable during and after that sort of exertion and you open your arms to anyone who endured it alongside you. People hug and congratulate without knowing, asking for political affiliation, religion or stance on gun control. You have hundreds if not thousands of friends during those hours — unified by work and a decision to see what you are made of physically and emotionally. The people who don’t participate are even crazier than the runners. Who wants to watch ordinary people run and or encourage strangers? They do, and it adds even more to the event.

I wonder if those who were involved in Monday’s bombing considered any of that. I’m not going to speculate about who is responsible or why the plot was carried out because I only know what I hear or am told, which hardly makes me a dependable source or judge.

But I do wonder about the point in which the lives of those involved turned. People don’t come out of the womb with ideas to hurt people as they work and support each other. Circumstances dictate these sort of decisions and the world views of puppeteers mold and manipulate impressionable minds that aren’t guarded.

People who run marathons are athletes made from moms, dads, lawyers, doctors, baristas and single dudes who pass out under tables at the finish-line aid station. For the overwhelming majority, it’s not about elitism. People who wear sweat like beads of honor are recovering addicts, 60-year old guys without shoes, cancer survivors, the formerly obese or simply people who got in shape and never got out.

They spend hours alone with ignored excuses leading up to the day their ultra light, ultra bright shoes will turn to drab bricks over 26.2 miles. They are the people who willingly subject themselves to work and pain for the athletic highlight of their lives — 6,110th place.

Had the bomber or bombers run, they would have been cheered and congratulated by thousands of strangers. Instead they killed an 8-year old and others.

Maybe there wasn’t much room for hope in the minds of those involved and they gave in to evil. Maybe compassion had been snuffed out after years of indoctrination or emotional trauma and allowed them to attack one of the many venues which encapsulate some of the best attributes of Americans.

I know for sure the value of education and discussion is never more obvious than these moments when those manipulated by the words and beliefs of others, are pushed to act without mercy or regard for human life.

For now, we will remind ourselves to live and move on collectively inspired to trample on the hopes of those wanting us to cower or demanding attention. Even if it doesn’t end up being a symbolic attack of America on Boston’s Patriot Day, the response will be an army of symbolic marathoners destined to endure together.

For some people who were near the finish line, Monday will be the day in which they turned. They will be incited and they will run their own 26.2 miles because it’s not just about running anymore.

It might be someone who has never run, who lost a limb or loved-one or all of the above, but there is no doubt some will respond with the resiliency evil cannot touch.

And we will cheer.



To contact Jeff Lund, email aklund21@gmail.com.

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