There is so much that can be written about yesterday’s Boston Marathon—the 118th edition—I’m not even sure where to begin.
Should we discuss the first victory by an American since 1985? Surely the tactical race is worthy of something: Almost invariably, the one who goes out in front on the undulating Boston course gets plenty of TV time, but ultimately little else in reward. And what of a field of some of the very best on the planet, hanging out in a chase pack, naively (or arrogantly) waiting for the return of the wayward leader? The final nail biting chase scene, worthy of Hollywood hyperbole, had us alternately screaming at the computer screen, urging the valiant hero on and cringing, peering between fingers as the hunter crept nearer and nearer his prey.
The winner–the American Hero–born there and grew up here to embody all that is good. Thankful in victory, gracious in defeat, our Hero represents all that we should aspire to be in our relations with others and is undeniably himself representative of the Modern American Hero.
Or should we talk about the women’s race? Not to be overlooked is the women’s winner, with a performance that students of the sport will recognize as something almost otherworldly. “Almost” is the operative word, because it is now clear that she is capable of repeating that performance at will. The last miles of her win were at nearly the same speed as the winning men! You read that right. Rita Jeptoo covered the final 3.2 miles in 15:56 while Meb did the same distance in 15:49.
Or the hopeful American spoiler, the Golden Girl, who stuck her nose in places she didn’t belong, but now does, and won hearts for her brave efforts?
Likely we should talk about how this year’s race was to be a cleansing of the horror of last year’s events, and how so many wished for an American victory somehow to ease the pain. We tend to lean on those types of discussions, and perhaps there is a healing quality in those discussions, but one can’t help but think that understanding the interconnectedness of it all is ultimately what is necessary. Last year, we shed tears because we couldn’t fathom that people would do such things, at such a time, on such a day and it broke our hearts. This year, we shed tears because we were so relieved that our hero had won, in such a dramatic fashion, and that the horrific turn of events last year were not repeated this year.
In the end, we should talk about it all. It was the greatest Boston Marathon, at least in my life, surpassing The Duel in the Sun. It had, in less than two and a half hours, all the makings of what makes us love sport so much. Tactical battles and dramatic conclusions are infinitely more exciting than the scripted races.
We should talk about it all because this is the stuff that running is made of, and running is a reflection of life itself. It is not the numbers on a watch or how fast or how long. We should talk about all of it, because it is all part of the daily practice that connects us to others and in turn becomes the stories that we share to deepen those connections.