No doubts at the Boston Marathon

The 2014 Boston Marathon was going to be special, no matter who won.

That an almost 40-year old American, Meb Keflezighi, crossed the line first among the elite men made it an historic sporting day for U.S. running. No American had won the Boston Marathon since 1983.

But any marathon these days is about more than world-class competition. In great cities like Boston the event usually turns into a day of celebration. Of course this year’s Boston Marathon was about much more.

Read more at the American Security Project’s Flashpoint blog.

Riding on

A neighbor walked by the other day as I sat out front reading and he looked at me with a smile.

“Finally.”

For kids on bikes, it’s been spring for weeks already. They shake off the chill in the evening, their parents’ preoccupation with tragedy near and far and they ride. Best of all, they call us to ride with them.

And we do. There is no better way to put a tough winter behind you than to go for a ride with your kids.

Read the full post at Red Kite Prayer.

Across the river

Across the river, the Humvees are gone. The helicopters fewer. Sirens a rarity. The guns are back in the armory and the kids are once again at play in the street. Boston is getting back on track after last week’s bombing and the ensuing manhunt that terminated in a Watertown backyard. This weekend, Red Sox slugger David Ortiz helped bookend a tragic episode with his emphatic declaration of allegiance to the city and its people. Indeed, Boston is returning to “normal” even if we will never be the same.

See my latest post at the American Security Project’s Flashpoint blog.

 

Running together

The marathon is a test of individual endurance and will, but also community. Nobody truly runs alone. Never more so on Monday.

At mile 16 of the Boston Marathon, a spot that comes a few minutes before runners approach the punishing segment known as “Heartbreak Hill” and a few hours before a pair of bombs shattered the event forever, all that is great about the race was on display.

But it wasn’t the head-to-head battle between the two female runners leading the race up the steady grade.

It was curbside.

A spectator picked up a leading racer’s just-discarded energy drink bottle. Another approached and asked for the container, marked with a name, pleading that it had belonged to her idol. The conversation was emotional and honest, the sort of exchange that comes from deep desire and ends with hugs of gratitude.

Marathons are open events. The world’s best runners pass within arm’s reach. Casual competitors, if that can be used to describe any marathoner, share the road with the monastic greats who dedicate every waking hour to becoming the fastest humans on the planet.

The events themselves, be it in Boston or elsewhere, are a model of both commerce and also camaraderie. They embody so much of what is great about our society. Charities raise tens of thousands of dollars. Strangers cheer people who they will see for a moment, and almost certainly never again. Families crush their loved ones with hugs as runners break stride to connect with what gives them the strength to complete one of the most arduous challenges we find socially acceptable today. Racers, and their families, sacrifice for something difficult and elusive, but certainly meaningful.

By late afternoon Monday, Boston was caught in the shadow of something awful. People learned that few things are more humbling than scouring the Internet for signs that a friend or loved one is alive.

Next year at mile 16 the runners will be back, girding for battle against one another and the rolling hills ahead. They will return as much out of defiance of those who want to isolate and enfeeble us as out of dedication to a shared experience of overcoming. Among the family and friends, fanatical fans and onlookers, loss and gratitude will compete for our hearts.

But nobody will be on their own that day.