The finish line is a sacred place for runners.  It represents months, sometimes years of dedication, hard work, sweat, and tears.

It is a place of celebration, relief, and most importantly, triumph.

Like you, I was devastated by the news coming from Boston yesterday.  I’ve never run the race.  I’ve never even made it a priority to qualify, but I’ve experienced first hand the power of a marathon and how life changing the final step as you cross the finish line can be.

For many runners and family members yesterday, that moment was stripped away in the worst way possible.

When a runner meets another runner, they have an instant connection.  Regardless of their speed or preferred distance, a sense of respect and community immediately comes between them.  Yesterday’s violence hurts every single one of us.

I wasn’t sure if or how I should address the bombings on Rock Creek Runner, but then my mother, a marathoner herself, sent me an email yesterday evening and I thought she said it perfectly.

I’ll leave you with the words of my mother, Betsy:

…I could not help but relive memories of the marathons of which I have been a part.

Though my marathon moments are limited…..having completed one and watched 5 or 6 ….I am convinced that they are one of the most powerful demonstrations of collective goodness, wholeness and health that we can experience as humans.

Marathons are powerful acts of positive will and determination for the participants and expressions of pure pride and joy for the faithful fans.

To penetrate this “holy” ground with violence is once again so incredibly devastating.  Not only the loss of life, but the thought of dozens of runners having limbs blown off is unimaginable.

Hope rises as I think of the character that defines runners and how they will respond, over time, to today’s happenings.  I imagine ever greater good occurring in communities and across the nation because runners will remind all of us of our best selves – our strength, our spirit, our perseverance.  Though stopped short today, runners will cross future finish lines with ever greater conviction to claim triumph over adversity.

Author Doug Hay is the founder of Rock Creek Runner, host of the Trail Talk podcast, and fanatical about everything trail running -- beards, plaid shirts, bruised toenails, and all. He and his wife live and run in beautiful Black Mountain, NC.

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4 thoughts on “The Finish Line: My Reflections On Boston And A Letter From My Mother

  1. Beautifully said by both you and your mother. Yesterday, when I first heard what happened, I felt an immediate sense of horror – just as anyone would likely feel. Then, after a moment or two, I was overwhelmed by a sadness and anger as a runner. It felt personal. It felt different. My mind raced with thoughts of those who had put it in tremendous amounts of physical and mental energy towards that day. To those who wouldn’t cross the finish line, who wouldn’t see their loved ones cross it, and to those who did cross it, but would forever have that memory tarnished by this. The joy and spirit of marathoners – and of runners in general – are, in my mind, remarkably pure and inspirational. I have been deeply hurt by yesterday’s events on behalf of all my running community, but I am comforted at least somewhat thinking about that runner’s spirit.

  2. I am new to your blog. I skimmed through a few posts but I’m blessed to have stopped here. Your mother’s words ooze with motherly love and wisdom that will be like salve over the wounds of that tragic incident. Thank you.

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