Tuesday, April 23, 2013

One Week Later

Yesterday was Monday, April 22, a week after the 117th Boston Marathon, when I asked the London running community to meet me in Gibbons Park for a Boston memorial run.   Little did I know, the level of support and compassion the tragic events in Boston would generate not only in the running community but the entire community.  Social media, print media and broadcast media all responded asking for more details about the event   I was overwhelmed by the messages of support I began receiving and just a tiny bit panicked that I wouldn't be able to meet public expectations when it appeared that there would be television cameras present.

I consulted with two of my closest friends on what to do.  Do I reach out for more help?  Do I arrange for speakers?  Do I seek corporate sponsorships and logistical support.   We agreed, to stick with the original concept.  Low key, grass roots, and simple.

I knew I had to speak.

This is what I said.

Before we begin today, I’d like to share a couple of quick thank you’s.

Thank you to Adela Talbot for providing your bibs today.  Adela reached out and asked if she could contribute.  I gratefully accepted Adela’s help, since I had my family busy making your Boston Strong ribbons.  We wiped out the blue and yellow ribbon inventory out of the local Michael’s stores.   My daughter Bailey’s fingers are recovering nicely the time she spent with the safety pins.  She’s the one handing water today and hiding from her Dad mentioning how special it was to have her contributing to today’s event.

Thank you to all you for joining me this evening.   I wanted to keep today low key and very grass roots.  When I created the event on Facebook, I was hoping for a few of my friends to show up.  As I look around, I see many familiar faces and a few I do not recognize.   I’m sure many of you are doing the same.  As you look around, congratulate yourselves, this event is a result of your combined efforts to spread the word of hope, of sharing, of fellowship and community.

After all, running is a community.   In this past week, community has become a very special word to me and likely many of you.   Whether it is our local running community, or the global community of runners, there is a unifying goal many of us share.   To one day run the Boston Marathon.  Some of you have earned that honor, and many of us aspire to that honor.   The Boston Marathon represents the pinnacle of our sport. 

I want to share some of the statement released on April 19 from the collective group of former Boston Marathon champions as a show of solidarity to support the victims and in support of the Boston Athletic Association and Boston Marathon.
The Boston Marathon has long been known for its start in rural Hopkinton, its screeching coeds at Wellesley College, and its leg-searing Heartbreak Hill. These, however, are mere geographies. To us, the essence of Boston has always been its huge, supportive crowds–the biggest, loudest, and most knowledgeable in the running world.

Those killed and wounded had gathered at the finish-line area with a single purpose: to cheer for Boston marathoners. That makes them part of our extended family. When they cheer for one Boston runner, they cheer for all of us.

We will never forget this year’s victims or the millions like them who line the Hopkinton-to-Boston streets each April, challenging us to be our best. Without them, we could not run so strong or reach our goals.
 That sentiment is what brought me here to be standing in front of you today.  From San Francisco, my friend Brian Kelly reached out to ask members of running community to unite in a common goal.  His vision was simple. Take way our feelings of helplessness, of loss, of uncertainty and focus them on what we do best.


London, Ontario is 1 of over a 100 other locations around the world that have united today in support and remembrance.  We join a global community of thousands of runners, their families and supporters who honor the City of Boston, the first responders, police, fire and EMS.  We share the grief at the loss of life and limb.

May we take a moment of silence and reflect on those who have left us too soon, the injured, the frightened, and use our combined strength to send healing thoughts their way.

Thank you.

Today,   we look forward to running together, and with each step, we can be inspired by the stories of heroism we witnessed. Fearless and united, we will gain strength because we know that good ultimately will overcome.

Tonight, when we run, I ask that we stay together as a group.   Runners, walkers, family and friends share your stories about running.   There is one thing I know, runners love to talk about running. OK, two things, when talking about running, runners can talk for hours, and hours, and hours, and hours… To those wearing the Boston Unicorn, tell someone you don’t know what your Boston experience means to you.

A little bit about logistics.

We are going to proceed North (that way for those of us directionally challenged.) towards the Victoria street Parking and into the Banana Kingdom.  I’ve been joking with a couple people about renaming it the BAA kingdom.  We’ll continue to just before the end of that path and return back this way.  When you reach this parking lot again that will be about 3km.  

If you wish to run a bit further, continue south (it’s that way) following  the bumps in the path to just under the Oxford street bridge and turn around and back to here is about 5km. For safety reasons, I’m asking that we don’t cross Talbot Street near the Blackfriar’s Bridge as a group.

In closing tonight, remember when we run:

We run united to show our strength.
We run for those that were unable to finish.
We run for those that may never run again.
We run in honor of those who support us
For the person beside you on those long training runs
For our families, who without their love and support and understanding we would never get out the door.
For the random strangers along the course whose words of encouragement or signs make us smile and dig just that little bit deeper.
We run to heal
Heal ourselves
Heal our community.
And finally we run because we are runners
Runners with determination
Runners with endurance
Runners with an indomitable spirit that will not be broken.
We run selflessly, compassionately, and unafraid
Thank you!


Jose said...

Very cool

Jennifer said...

Great speech. What happened last month surely affected not only the running community but everyone around the globe.