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Spirit of the marathon can't be defeated

Posted by Ty Velde  April 21, 2013 04:00 PM

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Thumbnail image for BostonStrongRibbon.jpgHaving just completed my 24th marathon and 12th consecutive Boston Marathon, the events of the past week have not only struck my community, my sport, but an element of very much of whom I am.

Yet, I remain unshaken. My resolve run is firm. And yes, I am already thinking and looking ahead to April 21, 2014.

Why?

Over the years, I have I come to realize that the marathon is more than a race. It is more than a distance. It is about more than running. What makes the marathon such an amazing and important experience is that I believe it represents the best in who we are as individuals, as Bostonians, and as a society.

100ty_velde.jpg Ty Velde is a regular contributor to Boston.com's Marathon blog.
It is about strength. It is about community. It is about determination. It is about victory.

Strength
At its core, the marathon is a celebration of strength. Anyone who has run the marathon knows that to simply get to the starting line, you must train for months to be ready for race day. Then there is the act of running 26.2 miles. No matter how hard you have trained, itís never easy. But as runners, we are consistently able to do this because we are strong. Strong in mind. Strong in body. Strong in spirit.

Yet beyond this, the marathon celebrates our strength as people. Yes, there are elite athletes who ultimately win the race, but is this the reason that most choose to watch and support the marathon?

When it comes to the marathon, I'd like to believe that the primary attraction is not rooted in watching a small subset of people doing what most of us could only dream of. Rather, we are drawn to the marathon because we are cheering for our mom, dad, sister, brother and/or friend. We are cheering for someone just like you and me.

We cheer for the old, we cheer for the young. We cheer for the able-bodied, we cheer for the disabled. We cheer for the winner, we cheer for the survivor. We cheer, because even if you are not running, you can still see and visualize yourself within someone who is.

Ultimately, we cheer because what the marathon espouses and celebrates is our strength as people and as a community.

Community
The marathon is about community. Yes, the Boston Marathon is a race, an athletic event, but when you look beyond the surface you will discover so much more.

The marathon brings us together as a people. In Mondayís Boston Marathon all 50 states were represented. But beyond this there were 96 countries of citizenship represented including runners from countries such as Uruguay, Iran, Israel, Vietnam, Ukraine, and Finland. Yes, while the Boston Marathon takes place in America and is often cited as being a ďuniqueĒ American institution, it is also a clear symbol of the global community that we all live within.

Beyond the runners, the marathon brings us together as Bostonians. Itís a day to celebrate who we are and our community. But what is unique about the marathon and the community it creates is that itís not tied to a team, a score, a win or a championship. No, the community of the marathon is tied to the spirit of Boston and who we are as runners and as a people. The marathon demonstrates that the strength of our community does not reside within the skills of the few, but within the collective passion of the many. This is why the Boston Marathon has endured for 117 years and will continue to thrive.

Determination
There comes a point in every marathon where your energy is sapped, your body starts to ache and everything seems to just start to slow down.

You want to walk, but you continue to run. You want to stop, but you keep moving forward. You want to give up, but soon find yourself crossing the finish line. Why, when faced with such adversity do we choose to carry on?

Because of determination.

Itís about realizing a vision. Itís about not giving into the moment. Itís about rising above the challenge. Yes, those final miles of a marathon are in many ways a test of oneís resolve. But itís a test that we demonstrate a consistent ability to pass. Why? Because when times get tough, the marathon inspires a sense of determination. It what keeps us moving forward and what ultimately powers us through to the finish line.

Victory
One of the true beauties of the marathon is that while somebody wins, nobody loses.

While each year someone is crowned a champion, those who finish behind them are not branded as losers. Instead those who come in behind the leader are still celebrated for what they have accomplished and the beauty of the marathon is that this is something that extends to each and every one of us who runs.

To most the marathon is not about winning or losing, itís about victory. Itís a symbol of triumph. Running 26.2 miles is not easy, and as a community this is something we recognize and celebrate when itís accomplished. I'd like to believe that this is what ultimately drives most of us to run. Weíre not out there to win, but we are there to be victorious. We are there to show ourselves and others what we are made of and what we are able to do.

Ultimately, while I know most of us will never win the Boston Marathon, we will keep coming back to run. We will not stop. Why? Because our victories are personal, they are communal and for Bostonians, victory is just something that we cannot seem to get enough of.

In closing, I would just like to say that my heart goes out to all affected by the events Mondayís events and those thereafter.

But if I have realized anything over the past week, it is that the spirit and the values of the marathon are something that cannot be defeated. Why? Simply stated, because the spirit of the marathon is something that resides within the soul of us all.

We have shown our strength.

We have displayed our community.

We have conveyed our determination.

And ultimately, we have emerged victorious.

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The One Fund Boston
To help the people most affected by the tragic events that occurred in Boston on April 15, 2013 please consider donating to the One Fund. These are our mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers and they need your help right now. To learn more, click here.

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Look for updates, news, analysis and commentary from the following.
  • Steve Silva, Boston.com senior producer, two-time Boston Marathon sub-four hour runner.
  • Ty Velde is a 16-time Boston qualifier who's completed 12 consecutive Boston Marathons and 25 marathons overall. Ty is now training for his 13th Boston run and will provide training tips for those who train solo and outside, no matter what temperature it is.
  • Rich 'Shifter' Horgan is a 19-time Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team member who runs in honor of his father, who died of colon cancer. He will provide updates on local running events with a focus on the charitable organizations that provide Boston Marathon entries for their organization's fund raising purposes

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