As a sport, running is not a big deal among the national consciousness. Even as a runner, I can’t blame people for being uninterested in who the defending men’s and women’s 5,000 meter world champions are because it’s not particularly fun to watch.
But even folks who haven’t run a day in their lives know how big a deal the Boston Marathon is. It’s the pinnacle of the sport because it’s an honor for every level of runner participating. World-class runners have to finish an amazing race to win and everyone else has to run a qualifying time to get there. Unlike other huge marathons in the United States where a lottery system is used to determine who gets to run, each year being at Boston represents individual achievement. It also attracts an international crowd unlike any other race in the world, while still being linked to Boston and its people.
So last year, when bombs blew up at the finish line and ruined one of the great American sporting events, it shook me. My father worked for years to qualify for Boston and when he finally did, he took his time during those 26 miles, savoring what he had accomplished.
That’s what the people who didn’t get to cross the finish line a year ago were trying to do, as well. Just enjoy the moment, because who knows if it will ever happen again.
One of the things that appeals to me most about running is you have nearly 100 percent control over it. Sometimes freak accidents and injuries happen, but otherwise everyone has a say in what they get out of running.
You set your own goals, you train as hard (or easy) as you want, you rest when you don’t feel like getting off the couch and then you motivate yourself however much you want during a race. You race well or poorly and then recalibrate all of the above for the next one. Whatever you want out of running, you can get it.
So Monday’s race figures to be unlike any other before or after it. Thousands upon thousands of people decided they wanted more from themselves in distance running last year; Boston 2014 will be the culmination of everything they’ve worked for.
But most importantly, those who weren’t allowed to finish last year will be back for 26 more miles. Running often is about digging deep and pushing through difficulty, but those runners had to face a completely different kind of adversity. Returning to the scene of the mayhem and overcoming it will be the ultimate achievement.
Contact Nate Waggenspack at 970-875-1795 or nwaggenspack@CraigDailyPress.com. Follow him on Twitter at @CDP_Sports .