Friday, April 22, 2011

Boston Marathon - A Reason to Run

For the first time I went to watch some of the 27,000 runners in the Boston Marathon. I have lived within a mile of the route for the last 5 years. It is held on an obscure Massachusetts holiday and I usually have to work. In the days leading up to this massive event, I have seen them setting up port-a-potties and placing skids of bottled water out along Route 135.

On race morning there are police cars at every crossroad ready to close the intersections to traffic. As I make my way into the city, there are dozens of buses filled with runners heading out to the official starting line in Hopkinton - 26 miles from downtown Boston.

My daughter dropped me off a couple of bocks from the barricades where a local bank was handing out cowbells and balloons - I thank God there were no vuvuzelas! I waited in line for a complimentary cowbell, and then walked down to the T station for a view of a site I had never seen or imagined. A State Police cruiser led the elite runners, one who averaged just under 13 miles per hour, setting a record of 2 hours and 3 minutes and 2 seconds!

Amongst the front runners was American, and Christian Ryan Hall. He finished 4th, just about a minute behind the leader. HERE are the results. Instead of focusing on Hall's faith and excellence, which you may read about HERE, I want to talk about what I saw that moved me.

I wish I had better pictures, but let me try to describe the scene. Think of a stadium emptying out onto a 2-lane state highway in which everyone is running at about 10 miles per hour. There are cowbells clanging and endless applause as droves of athletes made their way past the 10K marker.

I was tracking two Christian friends, both in their 50s, as they trekked towards Copley Square. I was hard to find them in the seemingly endless river of tank tops. They both finished with personal best times, though hours after the elites.

There was something emotional about it all. Being up close, standing on the sidewalk, you could read tattoos and sportswear brand names. You could see the intensity of personal strength and emotion., as well as see the seat drip from their foreheads.

It seemed to me, that most everyone was running for a reason that was not about winning, or best times; something greater.

Suddenly there was a loud applause and our focus was on those in wheelchairs. And then one being pushed by a runner! It was moving to see this father and son team.

Then a runner in a white robe and sandals - God only knows. Soon after there was a man a tall man in pink tights and a tutu. I can only imagine that he was running for breast cancer awareness.

There were survivors of cancer, heart disease, and those running in remembrance of loved ones passed on.

A man ran with a large American flag which could only slow him down. Another was a firefighter running in full gear, Scott air-pack, coat, boots and a helmet. There was a marine unit that ran in full combat gear and packs in memory of a comrade lost in Iraq.

For the sake of love, many felt that the pain of a marathon run was one way to touch the pain of those that have suffered in this world.

I am not a big fan of Christian apparel, however; I saw a t-shirt that said "I Run Because He Gave His Life for Me" and on the back "26 Miles of Prayer, Stop Me And Ask".


photogr said...

Amazing the people that can enter a marathon and do that. More amazing is their commitment running for a worthy cause which there are plenty.

I used to enter a 10 mile walk for a cause that raised money for cancer in a small community north of Cincy back in the late 80s. That was a tough endurance for me so I can imagine what running the Boston Marathon is like.

Tracy said...

Sounds like quite the event! I've even heard of the Boston marathon, and I'm a total so Cal person; so it must be really big.

Charlie's Church of Christ said...

watching a marathon has never sounded appealing - you've changed my mind.

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