Every year, on Marathon Monday we would tune in to the Marathon. It was always an event we watched. We did not watch football, baseball or basketball regularly, but we always watched the marathon. There is something about the grueling event, 26.2 miles through the heart of several towns in the Boston metropolitan area, that creates devotion. In this day and age we have become disconnected from each other. Our capitalist individualism creates a feeling of isolation, a separateness of other and a disconnection of community. Marathon Monday is a day when this separate space between people dissolves, when a passionate community is created. That stranger whose shoulder is pressing against yours, as you both strain over the barrier to cheer on the runners, becomes your friend, and you create a moment with this person that will never fade. That is what the Boston Marathon is to a non-runner. Imagine what the runners feel like.
I had the privilege of going to Wellesley College, which is at the halfway point on the marathon route. Every year Wellesley cancels classes, sets up a fair atmosphere, including a concert, beer and food tents and the students line the road and cheer on the runners. This creates the “Scream Tunnel” where students scream encouragement and also kiss runners. For four years, I stood on the sidelines and cheered on the runners, and even kissed a few. I cheered on friends, strangers and even got to see Team Hoyt run.
The Boston Marathon means so much to so many people, from all over the world, and especially the New England community. When I saw the news of the bombing on Monday (late at night for me) I could not have articulated my feelings. I woke up all night checking for news of the victims and survivors. I was mourning for both the victims and surviving of the tragedy, as well as the community. I am also grieving for the Marathon itself, for what was, and how it will never be the same.
After the bombs detonated, and the races was stopped, people all along the route were helping stranded marathon runners with nourishment and transportation, websites were created to organize housing for runners and their families stranded in the Boston area. My heart goes out to those affected, and also to the community that responded.