The Dream Shattered

There are millions of athletes who run every day. Many do it to lose weight. Others do it to stay healthy. Others do it to perhaps compete in a five-kilometer race. Then there are others who run, compete and dream about the ultimate goal of a runner to stride home to finish the most famous race in the world, the Boston Marathon.

The story line behind the world’s most famous race dates back to 1897. Some folks from Boston were so impressed with the Olympic marathon race in Athens, Greece, the previous year they came back home to started the Boston Marathon on Patriots’ Day in 1897. It was the first step forward to 26 miles of glory and 26 miles of pain.

The race had modest start. The field for the annual event would number in the hundreds at best until the 1960s. Two developments changed the sport of marathon racing forever during that decade. Abebe Bikila won the 1960 Olympic marathon in Rome without wearing shoes. Bikila who was from Ethiopia in Africa triggered an interest on that continent that is still evident today. The second development was with women. A couple of ladies snuck into the world’s most famous race and eventually organizers were forced to accept women as participants in the grueling event.

The 1970s saw a boom in long distance running in America led by Alberto Salazer, Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter. All won the Boston Marathon and Shorter took Olympic gold in Munich in 1972.

As the more people hit the roads, more people wanted to compete in the Boston Marathon. It finally forced officials to develop a qualifying time for a runner to partake in Boston. The standard set was not easy for any runner. They had to run another marathon and be under a qualifying time based on their age.

Competitors who competed seriously knew the time they had to beat in order to just inch up to the starting line in Boston. It was the goal of any runner who ever competed in a marathon to have a good enough time just to run there some day.

On Monday, 27,000 competitors with 27,000 dreams left the starting line in the hopes of completing the mission to finish the Boston Marathon. Many were able to accomplish the feat.

Yet, right when the mid-pack runners, the people without serious athletic running skills, the runners who were competing for the love of the sport came down to complete their dream, everything was shattered by two bomb blasts.

People were killed, many were injured, and some nearing the finish line were shuttled  away from the horrible scene in downtown Boston. They were not allowed to cross the line. They were not allowed to finish their dream.

The dreams of many runners were shattered. The hopes of a nation were crushed. An iconic event of joy, struggle and victory in this country was blown up by some crazy nuts with a point to prove.

What did it all accomplish? Nothing except this fact, the American people showed their bravery to stand up and fight back just like Paul Revere and others did two centuries ago facing the British on the first Patriots’ Day.

Runners, police officers, fire officials, doctors, nurses and spectators simply helped to set out and do whatever was necessary to take care of the wounded. They took care of their fellow human beings even though they never even knew their names. There were many brave moments by many people.

The broken hearts were not in just those who never had a chance to finish. The broken hearts are of every American who dreams of living in peace, who dares to share in the joy of life, who dreams to finish something as important as the Boston Marathon.

That dream was shattered on Monday, but not the spirit of the American people. They will be back and so will the Boston Marathon. The next time the finish line will be there for all to cross, for all to dream.