A Proud Boston Marathoner

By: Mike Fucci Words can’t describe the events that transpired just a few days ago. What began as a beautiful, jovial, and exciting day, quickly transformed into chaos, confusion, and utter horror. While I will never understand or know what it was like to be there when those first two explosions occurred, the atrocious nature and closeness of this event impacted me in a way that I know at least 26,000 other people share.

The Boston Marathon is one of running’s hallmark events. At 117 years in the running, the spectacle is the world’s oldest annual marathon. To qualify, a Boston marathoner must run a marathon within a specified time for their respective age group within the year preceding the race. The athletes who are literally accepted to run the race are of the 99.99 percentile of any runner in their class. Needless to say, we train relentlessly for months on-end. We run our bodies into the ground, literally braving illness, weather, and often injury in order to perform at our peak ability come the day of the race. And when we finish, we no longer ask about time, because making it is enough. It’s just hugs and congratulations. We are BQers (Boston Qualifiers) and now, finishers. For all of us who have the honor and privilege of running with the best of the best, we take this day seriously and hold the utmost respect for everyone toeing that magical line.

Along with the marathon, this day celebrates the wonderful history of Boston and the surrounding area. Marathon Monday is a family tradition for many in the region. Hi-fiving and kissing passing runners, handing out water, food, and vasoline to fuel and lubricate them to their historic finish creates lifelong memories that pass down from generation to generation. I remember hearing that during the 2012 Boston Marathon, over 500,000 people weathered a 90-degree day to watch the run and celebrate the tradition. It’s not a race. It’s a part of life and a day held very close to the proud inhabitants of Boston. Nothing will keep Bostonians from celebrating this day; from inclement weather to the threat of a coordinated terrorist attack. If I know Bostonians, they will return in full force in 2014, prouder and more ecstatic than ever. As runners, the Boston Marathon would not be as legendary or respected without the unwavering support of the thousands, rather, hundreds of thousands of fans who line the streets, helping us run faster than we ever have before. I think I can speak for all of the runners when I say that we respect and appreciate the fans and volunteers above anyone else.

This day represents the hard work, the physical and emotional sacrifice, dedication, and resilience of so many people. For many, it is the pinnacle of a running career. For others, the race has become an annual tradition spanning multiple years or decades. The marathon serves as a celebration of athletic excellence. It is the epitome of everything we, as runners, work for, and serves as a benchmark for our status in the running community. I know that no other runner will allow this despicable act of terror change her perception of this remarkable event. I know we will return next year, prouder, braver, and even better athletes than we were this year. I am certain that Bostonians will come out louder, larger, and more enthusiastic than ever before. The community will not allow these terrorists the satisfaction of instilling fear into us.

While we will always remember that horrific afternoon, the Boston Marathon will always maintain its honor among athletes and fans alike. It will continue to unite people, if not just for one day, around human-kind’s purest form of athletic expression, as well as showcase some of the world’s greatest athletes in action. Boston will remain the symbol of excellence in running and legendary spectators. I will return next year, just as proud, humble, and excited to toe the line towards my new personal best.

Thank you to the men and women in uniform (and in shorty shorts and spandex) who were the first on the scene, risking their lives in order to aid a fellow human. You will be immortalized as heroes. I truly wish I could have been there with you, and feel selfish I was not. Thank you to my family and friends who showed unending support and concern for my safety. Thank you to everyone who makes the Boston Marathon what it is- the B.A.A., the fans, the runners, and the sponsors. My heart, love, condolences, and sorrow go out to all of the families affected by this tragedy. Nothing can explain this act of pure evil and malevolence. I know that next year we will not only run for ourselves, but for those that cannot run or come out to contribute to this truly wonderful experience.

We are runners. We are strong enough to endure miles of every kind of pain imaginable. We crave pushing the envelope and never fear the unknown. Most importantly, nothing will stop us from running. Because of this, the organizers of this purely evil attack, though still at large, will never win.

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