On Monday, terrorists targeted innocent people with evil, hatred, and death as they detonated bombs at the Boston Marathon. As a runner who has completed a marathon and numerous shorter races, I felt personally attacked not because I was there, but because I’m part of a nationwide community of runners and we were all attacked. I’ve experienced the support that cheering spectators provide fatigued athletes and I’ve known the joy of the crossing the finish line. Races and running bring together groups of individuals into communities, and the cowardly acts of lunatics can’t tear us apart.
Because of PublicCEO, I’ve reflected – mile after mile – upon the massive mobilization of local government resources. During Sacramento’s Run to Feed the Hungry, police, fire, and paramedic service line a 10K (6.2 mile) course to provide for the safety of some 30,000 runners. During the California International Marathon, the course requires similar deployments but over 26.2 miles.
These public safety workers provide protection from predictable hazards such as traffic. They provide medical services to normal race day hazards. When I pass them close enough, I always say thank you.
But on Monday, it was demonstrated that their services could be needed in far more serious situations. After this year’s Marathon Monday, maybe I’ll say thanks twice.
Marathon Monday – held on Patriot’s Day – was a perfect and a perfectly flawed target. It was a perfect target because it was highly visible, heavily attended, and offered modicums of security challenges to circumvent.
But it was a terribly flawed target because the all-hands-on-deck nature of such a large scale event. First responders were already mobilized, police, fire and paramedics were already on-scene and that meant response times to the blasts were measured in seconds.
Even as the smoke rose through the air, the race day community rushed to the side of the victims, offering hope, assistance, and comfort. Public safety workers rushed to the scene, tearing down barricades and rendering aid. Inside of minutes, victims were being treated and evacuated from the blast sites.
In fact, an amazing 100 percent of the victims who were alive when first responders reached them survived, a testament to the speed and skill with which the innocent victims received care.
I have a wife with Boston ties. We have friends who were in Boston for the Marathon. We have friends who work as nurses in Boston. We have friends who were injured in the bombings. For all of these people, their communities have rallied behind them with support and prayer and love.
I’ve seen Internet memes that decry the these terrorists for attacking a group of people who are so determined that they run 26.2 miles for fun. I’ve watched the video of Yankee Stadium singing “Sweet Caroline” and Boston Bruin fans overpowering an opera singer with a microphone to sing the National Anthem for themselves. I’ve read about support races being run in Boston, Austin, Texas, and Oakland.
What these terrorists, and perhaps all terrorists, fail to realize is that the acts of an individual cannot win against the combined strength of a community.
There are funds that can be donated to, such as the Boston One Fund, and there are moments of silence and religious services that can be attended. I know for me, I’m responding with my heart and wallet… and my feet.
This weekend, I will return to the streets to run a race in support of my community of runners, with the support of my community of local governments, and in defiance of terror and hate and violence.
I may not be running in Boston, but I will run for Boston.