Outsider’s perspective (by Kevin Trudgeon): Still running along

Posted: April 19, 2013

Why would anyone bomb a marathon? That’s one of the texts I received in the aftermath of Monday’s heinous acts at the Boston Marathon.

I had just finished frantically trying to get in contact with a friend of mine who had been running in the marathon — thankfully he’d left the finish line area 15 minutes before the bombs went off — and was trying to wrap my head around what had just happened.

Much like the school shooting in Connecticut just a few months earlier, the news of yet another senseless act of violence was difficult to comprehend.

Were the bombs targeting someone, or something, in particular? Were they some form of political protest or terrorist attack? Or were they simply the act of mad men, intent on causing destruction and mayhem?

As of Thursday none of those questions had been answered definitively, although speculation was running rampant.

What wasn’t up for discussion, however, was the future of marathons.

While increased security will be a given going forward, beginning with this weekend’s London Marathon, runners everywhere have made it known that they will not be run off the road.

From those already looking to register for next year’s race in Boston to others deciding to dust off the old running shoes as a sign of solidarity, the running community has shown its fortitude this week.

Race officials across the country are expecting larger than normal turnouts for upcoming 5Ks, 10Ks, marathons and everything in between, #RunForBoston was trending on Twitter and the notion that Monday’s tragedy would scare runners away from their sport seems preposterous.

It’s the expected response from a group of people who willingly put their body through pain and torture to do what they love, and one that my friend shared when we talked on Wednesday.

As someone who has never run 2.62 miles in one outing, much less 26.2, it’s always been hard to fathom exactly what possesses him to do what he does, but, like most marathoners I’m sure, it only takes a few minutes to understand the passion he has for it.

“Running is something that’s freeing, you leave whatever you’re doing behind when you go on a run,” he said. “You don’t take your phone, there’s no work. If anything you’re running from your fears and worries.

“There’s an innocence to running, you spend your whole life working towards it. When you’re an infant you learn how to stand, then to walk, and finally to run.”

The fact that innocence was shattered on Monday was one of the most frustrating aspects of the whole ordeal to him.

“You should never go on a run and expect to be anxious about anything,” he said.

And yet, it’s now going to be on everyone’s mind when they step to the starting line.

How could it not?

Whether it be beefed up security details or spectators being limited to certain areas along race routes, the events of Monday will change how marathons are put on going forward, especially those as large as the one in Boston.

There will be necessary precautions in the wake of the three people who were killed and many more who were injured, reminders of what was lost that day.

But if anyone thinks they will serve as deterrent to runners, my friend echoed the same sentiment that’s been popping up in stories, blogs, tweets and posts over the last few days.

“The irony is that obviously they were bombing the spectacle [of the Boston Marathon] more than the actual race,” he said. “To go after a group like marathoners, who do something that less than three percent of the population do ... they’re a pretty strong-willed group already. This will just give them one more reason to run.”

— Kevin Trudgeon is the sports editor at The Winchester Star