April 16, 2013. We all remember that day.
We were still reeling from the events of the day prior. The pain was still raw. We were hurting. We were confused. We were looking for answers. We were looking for solace. Then I saw this post, from a friend of mine on Facebook.
“In 1997, I stood by the finish line at the Boston Marathon for the first time, watching as runners finished strong or weak, it didn’t matter, they finished. I went back each year to watch since the course ran through my neighborhood. The people who ran by inspired me, as a spectator I made a commitment to myself to run at least 1 marathon, which I did (Marine Corps Marathon 2000).
If you haven’t ever taken the time to go watch a marathon, you should. It’s not only inspiring, but it’s a great community event, so that is why this is so shocking. Boston is a great town, one that holds great memories for me and a place that I called home for so many years”.
What struck a chord with me about what she had written was that it was not about the power of running the marathon, but the impact of watching one. What she offered in her statement to me was more than just words in a time of hurt; I saw it as a rallying cry. Yet unlike much of what I read at the time, it was not a cry to go out and “run,” but rather to go out and “watch.” It was unique in that offered a perspective on impact of the marathon not from the few that choose to run, but rather from the majority, those who choose to watch.
I found this message so important, because a sad truth about the events of April 15, 2013 is that those most severely impacted were not runners, they were spectators. These were the people that came to support and cheer for those of us running the race. These were the people whose spirit carried us for 26.2 miles.
Therefore, it’s imperative that as we look forward to April 21, 2014, that as a community we not only look to reaffirm that we will run again, but that we will be there as well to watch. I say this because it’s my belief that it’s the spectators who line the course who make the marathon more than just a race, but a true community “event.”
Why should you watch? While we all certainly have our reasons, but if you or someone you know is still questioning what they should do on Monday, the following are just a few reasons why you should go out and line the course:
You’ll Be Inspired
As my friend noted, she was not just inspired by the elite athletes, but rather “the people who ran by.” This is one of truly one of the most inspirational elements of a marathon, in that it’s not something that is strictly open to elite athletes; it’s an event that is open to us all. Unlike watching other sports, one of the true beauties in watching a marathon is its all-inclusiveness such that the people you are cheering for are just like you and me. In short, one of the things that makes watching a marathon so inspirational is that we can all realistically see aspects of ourselves within the people who are running.
It’s a Great Community Event
You will see that the marathon is more than just an race, but a time for us all to come together. This is not an event that is open only to those lucky enough to have a ticket, but rather it's open to anyone who just has the desire two “watch”. It’s a time when we all come together to support the notion of victory and accomplishment. Yes, one of the true beauties of the marathon is that while somebody does win, nobody loses, and as a community that is something we look to collectively celebrate at the marathon.
You Will See What Makes Boston Such a Great Town
In watching the marathon you will see the depth our spirit and the expanse of our pride. You will be a part of something that is much bigger than any single one of us. You will see that what makes Boston so great is how we support each other. How we are there for one another. You will witness first-hand that the tightly woven fabric of our community is not only what makes us strong, but is what also makes Boston such a great place to live.