Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Boston & VLM

I think I need to get this down for my own peace of mind because the morning after the bombing of the Boston Marathon it is hitting home just how much of an impact the challenges I have taken on have affected me. I don’t mean the soul searching, the euphoria, the fear, the excitement, the failure, the determination of doing the challenges at the time (those are all well documented). I mean the impact the ’community’ of people has had on me personally.
Me and Mrs B watched with overwhelming sadness and disgust the horrific scenes unfold at Boston. Mrs B was visibly shaken as events unfolded. I suspect this was because despite the events being thousands of miles away they were just to close to home. We have both stood at the finish supporting, our kids have stood at the finish supporting and we have both been participants on many occasions!
I don’t directly know anyone that was running or supporting at Boston (and whether you are running or supporting the emotional rollercoaster is very similar!). Through Twitter I follow a few American runners and triathletes and I am friends with a couple on Facebook too. I have never met these people but we share a common interest. Taking on challenges for charity, or personal improvement, or both. Despite, what I consider to be, my well founded agnostic beliefs one of those Americans is a Pastor (I am sure that’s the correct title?) who is an actual proper runner. He was introduced to me and the Poppyfields Appeal by a mutual friend and has supported me in my endeavours and the charity for some time. We have talked previously about running the NY marathon together for Poppyfields (albeit that he could run it twice, shower, have breakfast and still be waiting at the finish for me) and I was very relieved to hear via FB that despite him initially having a place at Boston he was unable to run so he hadn’t travelled to Boston!
I still have the dream to run in the States with Matt Dobson but if I ever make it over there we have agreed we will run Boston together instead. Whilst it doesn’t make a jot of difference to the people of Boston and the direct victims of yesterday and whilst there isn’t actually anything I can do personally to help, it would be, for me, a way of showing support. Of course every runner and charity challenger will now be keen to run Boston because I am quite sure everyone in the ‘community’ will feel the same way. That’s why you will see thousands of runners wearing black armbands in London on Sunday, or with a written message on their shirt, or just running with Boston in their heart.
It is also why thousands of people will run today. They may have planned to anyway, or they may rejig their training plan to run instead of ride or swim, or they may feel under the weather but I get the sense the ‘community’ will be out in force because we perhaps just don’t know what else to do.
It is easy for me to say London should go ahead because I am not running this year as I couldn’t get a place. Only people in the position of having a place can make the decision as to whether they run or not and additionally whether they take their family to watch! Such a decision can only be right for them. I would like to think I would run. I would want to defy whatever invisible unknown lunatic is responsible for such cowardly inhuman acts and I would want to visibly show support for Boston. Would I want Mrs B and The Rugs at the finish waiting for me? Of course I would. Would I allow them to be? You see….on that question I am not so sure!
If I didn’t have a family I would think it is a no brainer! The nearest personal experiences I can relate it to are the shootings in Lichfield of two Soldiers in the early 90’s and the disruption of the Grand National in the mid 90’s. The first incident was, I think, a Friday or Saturday night. I was due to meet friends for drinks in Lichfield but that afternoon the news broke of two soldiers being shot dead at Lichfield train station by the IRA. As a young irresponsible man and with no responsibilities it was an easy decision to make to find another way into Lichfield (the trains were cancelled for obvious reasons) and carry on with my planned night in defiance of what had gone on. It was the only time I had seen armed police on the streets of Lichfield and probably the only time I had witnessed a completely incident free evening with any arguments and animosities put to one side.
It was neither big nor clever to be stood on the course at Aintree, fuelled with drink, singing ‘No Surrender’ as the police tried to clear the course due to a suspected bomb threat from the IRA after only the third race. It was, however, the only defiance we could display!
London will be super charged with emotion for the runners and the supporters. I can only liken it to the visit of Leeds Utd to Aston Villa the week after two Leeds fans had been killed in Turkey. Wreaths were laid by Aston Villa at the away end, there was an impeccable minutes silence and both myself and Mrs B experienced the super charged emotional atmosphere where traditionally (ridiculously) violently opposing fans were united. It was a rare moment in football but humbling to be part of it.
The London Marathon of course already has an international ‘community’ of runners and supporters, it is already emotionally charged, it is an epic event to take part in but on Sunday I would imagine all of that will be taken to another level. I ‘said’ on FB yesterday ‘I don’t know much about much. I am not a proper runner or athlete but I do know that a marathon is built on goodwill and with good intentions both personal and charitable. A marathon doesn’t segregate by wealth, race, class or religion. The running/charity community provides huge support across the globe. Sundays London Marathon will be hugely emotional in support of the people of Boston. I know loads (of people) running London. Run safe, run proud and have a place in your heart for Boston. Run safe!’
I will run today because I don’t know what else to do. It may help order my thoughts, control my emotions. I will watch London on Sunday entirely jealous of everyone who is running and then anxiously await the race reports, tweets, texts saying ‘I finished, I’m safe and my time was….’.
My heart goes out to Boston and my very best wishes to everyone at London! Enjoy and Race safe!

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