Yesterday’s bombing at the Boston Marathon had repercussions throughout America, especially within running communities. The Boston Marathon is the most prestigious marathon in our country. Many marathon runners yearn to run it; I have had it as a running goal for more than a decade. My office coffee cup is a gift from a running buddy who ran Boston eleven years ago. Last fall at Twin Cities Marathon, I was finally able to qualify for Boston in 2014.
Yesterday I was tracking on-line my friends Mike Johnson and Dan Foster as they ran the marathon. (Runners carry a timing chip which charts their progress as they cross timing mats along the course.) Mike and Dan were moving along the course nicely. It was cool spring day, a good day for running. Dan finished the race in 3:28:57, a great time on a challenging course. Mike was further back; his training for the marathon had suffered from a variety of issues. I noted that he had complete 40K in 4:25:47 and was less than 2 miles from the finish. This was at 2:46 pm.
When the bombs went off, Mike was only a half mile from the finish. Here is what he wrote on his Facebook page
I was about a half mile from the finish when everyone ahead of me was stopped. The spectators around us said they heard two explosions near the finish line area. I asked the spectator that first told us about the explosion if I could use his phone and I was able to connect with Zanny (his wife) right away. I am so glad I was able to do that so she wouldn’t worry.
Later Mike was able to reconnect with Dan and both are now recovering: physically, emotionally and spiritually. Like so many in the world, Mike and Dan are praying for those victims who were injured or killed in this terrible event. Events like this show us the depth of human sin and wickedness and push us to reflect on life’s meaning.
I remember writing to my running friends the day after the 9/11 attacks that I planned to run that day. On the day of the attacks I was too upset to run, but I decided that I could not let the terrorists “win a disruptive victory” and deny me the routine of solace and prayer. I ran that day praying for those who had died, praying for the responders and leaders, praying for our nation, and even praying for the terrorists who cause such evil. After all Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
I plan a similar run today (though it will be more a walk due to my sprained ankle). I will reflect on ways that I can be God’s agent of peace, hope and love for the world. The tragedy of Boston places a media spotlight on the evil that human beings can cause (as well as the tremendous response of dedicated care from first responders). Yet this tragedy will not turn me away from the ultimate source of hope and renewal: Jesus Christ. His cross and resurrection is the paradigm through which I see all such tragedy. Even when humanity killed God’s Son, God brought new life: the resurrection.
In the fall I plan to register for Boston, train and run it next April. I am confident that officials will find ways to improve security, though no one can make it absolutely safe. At the start the marathon will have a moment of silence to remember those killed and injured. Then the race will start and runners will do what they do: run. I plan to be one of them.