One Cowardly Attack Won’t Define Marathon Monday

Posted: April 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

One week ago today, I was driving out to Pittsburgh with three other writers, heading to the Frozen Four to cover college hockey’s national championship. There are a few different ways to get from Boston to Pittsburgh, but the road chosen by my GPS brought us through Newtown, Connecticut, and past signs for Sandy Hook. I remember thinking to myself that there was no way I’d ever be able to see those signs without thinking of the horrific tragedy that occurred there just four months ago.

Now I’m sitting here a week later, thinking the same kind of thoughts about Patriots’ Day. About the one day that is uniquely ours. The day that brings the entire city and state together. The day when we open our arms to people from around the country and around the world. The day that, for anyone who has ever experienced it in any capacity, is the best of the year.

Like everyone else around here, I’ve wondered if I’ll ever be able to look at Marathon Monday the same way again. Will this be the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of the marathon? Will I think about it whenever I walk around that area of Boston, the same way I thought about the Newtown shooting when I drove by those signs? Will this come to define our special day?

I think the answer to those first two questions is yes, at least for the foreseeable future. And that’s good. I don’t want to forget this happened. None of us should. We should remember Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell and the still-unnamed BU grad student forever. We should remember their families and all the people who had their lives changed forever by serious injuries.

And we will. We’ll remember them every year on Marathon Monday, because that, in many ways, is what the marathon is all about in the first place. For a select few, it’s about trying to win the race. For some, it’s about proving to themselves that they can finish the course.

But for so many more, it’s about running for a charity, in support of someone battling illness or injury, or in memory of someone who lost his or her battle. In 2012, 31 registered charity teams combined to raise nearly $11.5 million. The number of charities involved grew to 35 this year, and I’d be willing to bet the amount of money raised will increase as well.

You better bet there will be people running for the victims of this attack next year, and for many years after that. Some who know them, some who don’t. Some trying to raise money, some simply showing they care. Some will run for the first time because of what happened yesterday.

And you better bet there will be more people lining the course to cheer them on than ever before. I’m confident of it. I know this city, and I know that the coward or cowards responsible for this aren’t going to ruin our favorite day. If anything, it will only strengthen our resolve to make it the best day of the year. We’ll work even harder to make the marathon one of the most unifying events in the world. So to answer my third question: No, yesterday’s attack won’t come to define Marathon Monday. Our response might. But that despicable act of terror sure as hell won’t.

Things will be different for sure. There will be more security. There will probably be random searches. There will be, at least in the back of our minds, a feeling of unease, that nagging fear that something might happen again. Our eyes will well up with tears when we see those runners supporting the victims of this attack.

But we’ll get through all that, and we’ll have a great time, just like we do every Marathon Monday. We’ll show up in greater numbers than ever. We’ll cheer louder than ever. Hell, we might even drink more than ever.

I can’t wait.


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