When tragedy strikes, it’s hard to divert our attention elsewhere. We mourn the loss of those we cared about, we support those injured through their recovery. We wrestle with our emotions — anger, confusion, hatred, sadness — in search of answers that might not even make sense. All of these feelings are natural, and we deal with them in different ways.
But we should also take a moment to celebrate those who ran in the Boston Marathon — the thousands of people who trained throughout the year to compete in one of the world’s most significant races.
The Boston Marathon is a celebration of athleticism, determination, and tradition (“Marathon Monday” has occurred every April since 1897). Those who qualified and ran are athletic role models, inspiring us to lead healthy, active lifestyles.
Lelisa Desisa Benti. Apart from having a seriously cool name, the 23-year-old winner of the Boston Marathon’s Male Elite Division finished the race in 2 hours, 10 minutes, 22 seconds. It was his second marathon ever. He was born in Ethiopia and didn’t really take running seriously until he was old enough to move to Addis Ababa, where his career surged. Benti has received many racing honors in a short amount of time, including a seventh spot in the 2010 World Half Marathon Championships.
Rita Jeptoo. Jeptoo is a Boston Marathon veteran, having won this race the first time she ever competed in 2006. Taking the title again in the Women’s Elite Division seven years later is no big deal, because she’s a global marathon winner in Stockholm, Sweden and Milan, Italy. But succeeding in several half-marathons and being married to middle distance runner Noah Busienei isn’t enough — Jeptoo is also a kick-ass knitter.
Shalane Flanagan. Local athlete Flanagan busted it to make fourth place in this year’s marathon. Flanagan won a bronze medal for the Women’s 10,000m Finals during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, becoming one of only two American women to have ever done so. This was her first Boston Marathon, and I’m convinced the bombings will only motivate her to place in the lead next year.
Japan’s Hiroyuki Yamamoto had no prior knowledge of the race’s layout, other than hearing it was a bit downhill. Despite this, he whizzed past competitors and clocked in at 1 hour, 25 minutes, 32 seconds, taking first place in the Wheelchair Division.
Tatyana McFadden won the women’s title for the same division, an achievement sure to inspire others living with spina bifida. Despite her difficult childhood as an orphan in Russia, she has accomplished much in her lifetime, including competing as the youngest member of the USA track and field team in the 2004 Paralympic Games at the age of 15.
We have so much to celebrate in light of this tragedy. Celebrate an event that brings together people from all around the world for a common purpose. Celebrate winning, winners, and how to “win” in every aspect of your life. Celebrate the people who risked their lives to help others on April 15, 2013, and celebrate the lives of those we lost, despite how hard it may seem.
Celebrate the lives of survivors who will continue to run and let nothing stop them, not even a person or group of people who thought that might somehow be possible.