The Latest Running News and Notes in Hampton Roads – “On the Run” with Sportswrap Running Reporter, Jon “Flex’ Leiding
How To Describe Something Indescribable
Today I should be telling you how amazing the Boston Marathon is: it’s history over the 117 years, some of the past winners I’ve been lucky enough to meet, and how great it was to watch the last few minutes of the race. I should be telling you that I ran in 2009 and the feeling of joy racing down Boylston Street to the finish and setting my personal record on a historic course, making me feel like I belonged to the sport I enjoy and am somewhat successful. I should be telling you how proud we should be of our American Runners, placing 4th and 6th place in BOTH the Men’s and Women’s Elites.
I should be telling you about how locally Kris Lawrence and Gina Slaby were so good on Patriot’s day that they finished in the Women’s Top 50, each running in the Two hour and Forty Something marks. I should be telling you how envious I and thrilled we should be. I should be telling you that Kris set her personal record yesterday and that we should be looking for more great things to come from these Ladies.
I should be saying how very exciting it is to run the Boston Marathon and giving “shout outs” to our local Running friends. I should but, that all changed around 3pm yesterday. I was handling some paperwork and my Mother calls. “Are You Watching TV- it’s the Boston Marathon. There was an explosion!”
Watching video after video had me thinking about all my running friends competing that day. I watched video of the first blast showed Runners disoriented, even falling to the ground. I saw someone pushing a stroller, like those used by several of the Fundraiser Charities racing to the side of the road for safety. I looked the the time on the clock: Four Hours and Nine Minutes. That’s one of the heavy traffic times through the finish for the Marathon. From a numbers standpoint, more people are trying to break three and four hours than any other time. I should be seeing Charity Fundraiser Runners at the finish.
My mind started to think about those who were there. I should have been writing about John Adams, from Norfolk had run 3:10:45, even one of my friends, Thomas Hicks had run 3:14:03. There was Brenda Kalin, crossed the finish line Five minutes before the explosion. First time Boston Marathoner, Trish Jones of Virginia Beach finished in 3:53:08, while her fiance’, Bill Murray watched like others near the finish. Our good friend, Sam Wittenberg and Jim Duffy had just finished a few minutes prior prior. Virginia Beach resident, Lacey Baliet crossed the line in 4:09:34 . As Chris Rupe was reveling in having finished his first Boston Marathon in 4:09, a loud blast roared behind him thirty seconds later. He rushed toward the blast but EMTs directed him away to the medical tents.
Over 9,000 Runners did not finish. Susan Hagel, the Tidewater Striders Female 2012 Champion and John Price were 3/4 of a mile away, along with famed Boston Marathon Champ and writer for Runners World Magazine, Amby Burfoot. I remembered David Mick and Dennis Welch, running with Michael Davis from Team Hoyt, all unable to finish amidst the chaos. As Runners , we train to keep going. Monday, the finish line had become a crime scene. I should be writing about how inspirational all these runners are regardless of where they finish. I should…
Instead, I’m writing about how Runners turned to heroes. After hearing of the tragedy, Runners went to the Red Cross to offer blood to help. I’m writing about fans who lined the streets to cheer on their champions, immediately realized the troubles and didn’t run away but, stayed to help those so badly hurt. Three people, including an eight year old who came to cheer his Dad, paid the ultimate price, while a hundred and forty others were injured. Cowardly as it is, no new information is available yet and the healing process will take some time but, yesterday’s race proved that in a celebration of personal achievement, our innocence was lost. Hopefully, we catch those responsible. I wish for us all some closure.
Leah Nyfeler, an accomplished writer wrote: “And before we put this beast on trial for punishment, I’d like to see the perpetrator have to run the marathon course so that all can witness what kind of person does this. No hiding behind a backpack, no distance between perpetrator and victim, no intellectual justification. Just 26.2 miles and seeing exactly what a person is made of”.
In the meantime, don’t quit. Don’t stop Running or planning to run an event. If they were looking to test our perseverance, they shouldn’t have chosen Marathoners. We are millions strong and unified…”On The Run”.
Look for my new Running Blog on WAVY.com soon. As always, I appreciate the feedback. See you soon!
On the Run with Jon “Flex” Leiding, Sportswrap Running Reporter.