“Every mile is a gift” — Amby Burfoot

“Every mile is a gift”

I posted this earlier Monday morning on my Facebook page as I thought it was a perfect pre-race reminder. It was a quote from Amby Burfoot, who won the 1968 Boston Marathon. I am pretty sure Monday evening this quote gained even more value.

Ironically, Amby raced on Monday (do the math – what an amazing accomplishment!). I was reading some of his postings and this quote grabbed my attention:

“We can not cover our eyes and ears, and pretend violent acts don’t threaten our great institutions.

But our institutions did not become great by following a path of timidity and cowardice. And we can only hope that, when pummeled, as the Boston Marathon was today, they will rise again, stronger than ever.”

I don’t even know where to begin on this posting. It is too fresh, yet I wasn’t even there. I feel like I know, yet I don’t. I want to hear all the stories, yet words can’t describe. I had a few friends running on Monday and, like millions of others, my heart dropped when I heard what happened.

But let me back up to pre-attack. Tracking friends online. Streaming video on my computer. Sitting in angst to get the next text of their splits in the race. Are they on track? Please let them reach their goals. I wanted success stories! Happiness from all the hard work they have put in over the past year. As the miles went on, the race updates kept coming. One particular friend was getting slightly off pace. That’s ok, I thought. She kept running.

This particular friend didn’t set what she would call a “PR”. But it was. Her race was harder than reaching her goal time. She persevered through a day that she didn’t want, or expect. She kept going when she wanted to stop. That to me is tougher than any PR. Her legs were a little off that day, not a sign of anything – except just a “bad day”.

And this was all before the 2 bombs went off.

Little did she know what would happen a mere 25 minutes later and how “bad” the day really was.

Her perspective, like most of the runners that day, went from a very personal one (setting a PR, finishing, raising x amount of dollars for a beloved charity) to a very deep public one. All of a sudden crossing a finish line seemed like nothing. Everything that filled these runners minds (and legs) for the past 12 months was washed away to simply gaining an appreciation for the simple. The everyday.

They were reminded that life is fragile.

Runners World offers a beautiful perspective on the sport of running:
 “It’s the only sport in the world where if a competitor falls, the others around will pick him or her up. It’s the only sport in the world open to absolutely everyone, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity or any other division you can think of. It’s the only occasion when thousands of people assemble, often in a major city, for a reason that is totally peaceful, healthy and well-meaning. It’s the only sport in the world where no one ever boos anybody.”

Some would say runner’s are a different breed of people. The beauty of running is it really does bring people together. What happened in Boston is such a terribly tragedy no question. And – guess what – they messed with the wrong type of people. Runners. Not even to mention Boston Marathon Runners — an entirely new level altogether. Committed. Strong. Motivated. Dedicated. But most of all, Tough.

No one had the day they dreamed about.

But now I can imagine we will all dream bigger. We will persevere and rise above. We will continue this love of running to each other’s side in times of crisis, reaching out to people in need, helping those injured. Can we continue to stop being annoyed at everyday nuances and love just a little bit more each day? It is apparent from the disaster on Monday that we all have it in us.

Whether you run or not, every mile IS a gift.


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