When we first got down to the marathon route, we caught the tail end of the first heat of elite runners. These guys were moving! Most of them were still a mess-protracted shoulders, all bam-string, no glute…but it is still impressive to see people who have truly worked on their craft for years in the throws of competition. I will never run like they were running. Very cool.
As this pack thinned out and the first wave of runners from the next heat came through there was a very different feeling…
These runners were cheering back to the crowd! High Fivinng, smiling! Yelling…happy to be alive and running in the Boston Marathon. They probably all had personal goals for times, but they seemed to run for the love of the sport and experience. These runners donned the garb and colors of their country and outrageous costumes. There were a couple dozen Canadian proudly displaying the maple leaf. A group of 4 men carrying the Japanese flag. Several Irish folks running along. A man carrying an American flag with red white and blue clothes on. A man dressed as a fairy..wings and all. A Ninja, a man with a towel and rubber ducky, characters from movies, people with their 20 year old college and high school cross country pinnies on. Celtics and Red Sox T-Shirts, their names or the names of the people they are running for written on their bodies and more.
There were the teams of runners running for a cause or a sick or departed friend or family member. Runners running for themselves and those who could not run.
A blind man with 2 escorts, an 80 year old who was running Boston for his 8th time, an old man pulling an oxygen cart (yes…pulling his oxygen…with 2 health aides walking with him). There were people with prosthetic limbs and other seeming physical challenges.
It was amazing…I could not clap or cheer for an hour…I thought I would burst into tears. The humanity, the sacrifice, the camaraderie the unbridled and unconditional support of one another…total strangers! It was beautiful.
There were people handing our notes to runners…young girls near us…one runner took one and accidentally dropped it…this man RAN BACK through the other runners to get it!!!! He was so appreciative of the words of encouragement on the paper that he actually ran against the tide of thousands (only about 10 feet) to get the note off of the pavement and kept going.
This is what sport should be about. This is what life should be about. there are crowned winners who stand out…but not a single loser. It was about each man and woman being out for themselves on this journey, while sharing it with thousands of strangers. People cheering for other people who were limping or tired, that wanted to quit!
There was a man in obvious pain…limping, barely walking and woman shouted to him “Keep ti up! You are doing a great job!”…honestly at any other time in Boston this woman would have been yelling at this man to “hurry up and get the heck (PG version) out of the way!” .But this was “Boston”…what they call the Boston Marathon. Where the crowds treat the participants like kings, queens and family.
Never have I experienced a culmination of effort, dogged determination and sacrifice like this. Never have I felt this much pride about this community, about the people at this race and in this race. It was a celebration of life. My narrow mind tried to pick and analyze the human body but my heart and soul would not let me ignore the human spirit.
Thank you to the thousands of volunteers and tens of thousands of marathoners and untold number of fans. I feel like a better person for what you showed me today.
Talk about “Acres of Diamonds”…
Thank you for reading…I hope this story, my experience today can make a difference for you too the next time you have the opportunity to pick someone else up when they are down.
Corrective Exercise Specialist