Tuesday, April 16, 2013

5 Days in April

  • April 19, 1993, a standoff in Waco, TX between the FBI and the Branch Davidian cult ended in the murder/suicide of 76 men, women and children.
  • April 19, 1995, a bomb blast at the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, OK claimed the lives of 168 people including 19 children under the age of 6.
  • April 20, 1999, two students walked into a school in Columbine, CO and ruthlessly murdered 13 people (and injured 21 others) before killing themselves.
  • April 16, 2007, a senior at Virginia Tech, shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 others in two separate attacks, and then committed suicide.
  •  April 15, 2013, two separate bomb blasts at the Boston Marathon sent hundreds of people to the hospital and killed at least 3 including one 8-year old boy.
What do these 5 events have in common?  Other than the fact that they were cowardly acts on US soil that took the lives of many innocent people?  They all occurred within 5 days of each other in their respective years.  And either on, or about, Patriots Day.  Is this a coincidence?  Or, were the  perpetrators attempting to manufacture their own “Shot heard 'round the world”?

The events at the marathon hit particularly close to home for me.  I've run the Boston Marathon 7 times, spectated twice and volunteered once. And, as an active runner in the Boston area, I know literally hundreds of people who participated in yesterday’s race - more than 30 people from my running club alone!  And, countless others either volunteering or supporting their family members along the course.  So, it was a stressful afternoon and evening to say the least.

As bad is it was for members of the running community, I can only imagine how difficult a day it was for family members of some of the 26 Sandy Hook Elementary School students killed in that brutal attack on Dec 14th of last year. These brave folks were the guests of honor at this year's Boston Marathon and were sitting in the viewing stands directly across the street from the first of the two explosions. What must those people be thinking right about now?

I think what makes this tragedy so difficult to process is the clear juxtaposition of good and evil.  The spirit of friendly competition among runners, clubs, states and nations is what makes the sport of running in general, and the Boston Marathon specifically, so amazing.  For me, running represents everything that’s great about this world.  And, what happened yesterday represents everything that’s wrong with it.

In 1976, in the movie “Marathon Man”, Dustin Hoffman plays a runner who is kidnapped and tortured by a mysterious German named Szell.  Szell is looking for information and during a particularly chilling scene in a dentist chair he repeatedly asks the runner “Is it safe?”.  This question is frustrating to both the runner and the audience because neither knows what “IT” is or why it's important that it’s "SAFE".

After the events of yesterday, this marathon man asks the question again.  Is it safe?  I know the answer to that question now.  And, unfortunately that answer is no.  And, honestly, I don’t know if it ever truly will be.


  1. It should not stop any of us though...running is part of us, it's who we are! no matter who or what...we cannot let them take this from us!

  2. I think that these days there are so many unknowns, and so much is dangerous in one way or the other, that we would be paralyzed if we thought about the ways in which everything we do is a danger. My heart is heavy with the thoughts of yesterday, of someone doing this terrible deed with the intent of inflicting the most carnage and the most damage on a group of people doing what they love, but I also truly believe that there is still a lot of good in the world, and we can't let an act (or many) totally break us. If so, then those that are trying to make us fearful, trying to hurt us, get their way. We run because of what you said above, because it is a community, a "safe" place for us, a way to quiet our mind, to reflect, to compete in a friendly manner, for our health, to enjoy nature, etc. I would never want to give that up, and I hope that no one will because of this tragedy. To do so would just make it even more of a tragedy.

  3. Agreed. We must "Keep Calm and Marath-on."