In what now seems like a lifetime ago, I was a sportswriter. Long before becoming a 9-to-5 businessman, I covered sporting events for newspapers from Albany, NY, to Framingham, MA. I not only wrote about high school sports and Little League championship games, but also about the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, and Patriots.
But one event always stood out. It made my job rewarding, even in the face of long hours and weekend shifts.
You see, over the course of several Boston Marathons in the mid-1990s, my favorite assignment always included being at the finish line of the world’s most-famous foot race. But I was never there very often as elite runners broke the tape in Copley Square.
My editors wanted me out there as this event evolved from a world-class competition, into an exhibition of determination, accomplishment, personal achievement, and … love.
The best stories at the Marathon truly do happen beyond the 4-hour mark. When I covered the Marathon finish area in the day, I interviewed and wrote about people who were always so happy to tell me, from their hearts, why they subjected themselves to four-plus hours of pain on race day, and untold hours training beforehand in all kinds of terrible weather.
It was all about personal triumphs over serious health issues, to honor a deceased loved one, or to simply give themselves one major life accomplishment that no one could ever take away. Listening to them, it was as if they were telling me how each step, from Hopkinton to Boston, washed away the bad times and put them on top of the world.
Long after my deadline had passed, and what I had written ended up lining the bottom of some birdcage, the memory of watching these runners embrace loved ones, who waited hours for them to arrive on Boylston Street, left me with my own little “life is good” feeling.
Terrorism, wherever it happens, is an abomination against innocent people, and it causes us to react not only with sadness, but intense anger. What happened at the finish line of yesterday’s Boston Marathon should unite the good people in the world – and there are way more of us good people than there are of them — in hoping that the perpetrators soon feel the full brunt of justice.
But after that, we know that we will all pull together to ensure that people are out there again next year, trying for that one shining moment.
Here’s praying that what returns beyond the 4-hour mark in future Boston Marathons is again all about personal triumph, step-by-step healing of mind and body, and … love.