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Out of the Ashes, Humanity Will Win the Boston Marathon

We have no answers from the senseless Boston Marathon bombings that took place yesterday. When we finally have answers they won’t make sense. They will just point a finger at some radical lunatic that decided to kill innocent people to make some sort of deranged point.

I covered yesterday’s Boston Marathon for 16 hours straight. Running is one of my passions and it’s part of what I do for a living. I had just finished most of the race coverage for Run It Fast when the bombs went off at the finish line in Boston.

It’s not the first time I’ve heard reports of ‘bombs’ at a sporting event. Usually those reports are erroneous or false.  So naturally at first I thought maybe a car backfired or some fireworks went off that wrongly set off the social media first responders with incorrect tweets and status updates.

However, the videos from the attack quickly reached the internet, TV, and we all realized that something very serious had just happened.  I created Run It Fast – The Club fourteen months ago and had been tracking all of our runners that were running the Boston Marathon. About half of our runners had crossed the finish line at that point, but the rest of them were on target to finish just about when the bombs went off.

That’s when it all started to hit home. The runners became real to us and you feel connected to the terror that unfolded collectively. The tragedy that happened yesterday, that happens 20x a day in Iraq and other countries, becomes surreal and a terror to you and those that have loved ones that were present. You may have begun thinking about your family, when you would have been finishing the race- if you had been there running it, and where your family would have been, waiting on you to watch you finish your first Boston Marathon.

Likely my family would have been near the finish where the bombs went off, and I would have been finishing within minutes of detonation.  Maybe I would have been over there on the sidewalk reconnecting with my family and waiting for fellow Run It Fast members to finish. What if? What if? What if?

Then at some point you start to think of the tragedy of the entire thing. Those poor people that were wounded or killed were just the victims of a random act of violence.  But really it wasn’t random to them. Random acts of violence are never random. They are deliberate and the victims are almost always selected beforehand even if their names aren’t known.  Someone intentionally set out to kill, injure, and maim dozens of people at the finish line in Boston.

Violence is an epidemic. It is in certain parts of the world. We can claim to be the land of the free in America but we live in a dangerous society. Some of us are privileged to live away from where most violence takes place, but our lives interweave us all, of every background and origin, into each other’s lives as our stories unfold.

I was jumped after a high school football game, at the inner city high school I attended, when I was a 14-year old freshman. That same year I was an innocent bystander in a race-riot at my high school. SWAT teams, police, dogs covered campus as most of us were simply trying to learn American history when in fact we were being caught in the middle of it at that very moment.  When I was 19, I was robbed at gunpoint in my apartment with a gun to my head. Six years after that I awoke in my apartment in Athens to the Greek mafia staring down at me.  What went down in that apartment in those early hours have never fully been discussed outside of myself and my roommate during that intense early morning wake up.  For now let’s just say that what Hollywood puts in most action/suspense movies is more believable.

Each incident was worse than the prior one. I always thought that my odds of being the victim of ‘random acts of violence’ had to finally be down to like infinity to one since I’d already been randomly selected multiple times. But I’m just as likely tomorrow to be the victim of some senseless tragedy as you are.

Most would consider that to be very bad luck. It was traumatic in part, but I was actually lucky.  Besides a busted lip from getting jumped I was uninjured physically. However, those events always stick with you. They hide for the most part, and you might think it never happened, but then something ‘random’ like yesterday happens and it all flashes forward to reality again and you start to think once again of ‘What if?’  You feel the pain more than most and your heart bleeds and your heart cries for those that lost a loved one or were injured.

The victims from yesterday will be told by many that they are lucky to have survived.  They won’t always agree with that assessment. They will have wounds that will never heal. They will have nightmares that will never resolve.  They’ll see a neighbor jogging down the street and be struck with tremors from what happened in Boston on April 15th.

But from the concrete absoluteness of obscurity comes small blades of hope and brightness as time passes and wounds heal.

When evil strikes it makes a massive splash that dashes the hopes from humanity, at least for a small microcosm.  Then great starts to surface because simple goodness wouldn’t be good enough to whitewash the atrocities of what that evil has done.

For good is better than evil and great trumps evil. Greatness is dormant in most of us and often needs a powder-keg, sadly perhaps literally, to set it off. But once ignited you start to see the best of humanity. Hope starts to rebrand itself in society when this happens.

When the bombs went off yesterday, we saw runners and first responders run towards the smoke and explosions to help and hopefully save our fallen brothers and sisters.

As Andy Durfresne said in The Shawshank Redemption, “Hope is a good thing, perhaps the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

Runners are tough people…some of the toughest people on the planet. Often what others might confuse for a white flag is a dirtied handkerchief that we take out of our pocket to tie around our bloodied leg so we can get up and keep marching forward.

A lot of humans that run do so because they’ve already dealt with something traumatic or overcome some bad injustice, act of violence, rape, death, cancer, depression, or life-altering event.

For when we run hard and run far everything leaves our systems as we become squarely focused on the most basic things like breathing, survival, where our next step will land.  It detoxes us and removes all the toxins from badness, heartache, confusion, and what troubles us in our daily lives.

But even the best of us can’t run forever and when we stop or the race is over we have to figure out how to survive and how to respond when evil strikes and fear starts to consume our lungs that were just filled with oxygen and endorphins that made us think that we could do anything.

And life is perhaps best summed up with just that. Where will our next step land when the race is over?

The events of yesterday and humanity’s track record would strongly suggest that step is towards the smoke and flames and out of the ashes, humanity will win the Boston Marathon!



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This post was written by:

- who has written 1138 posts on Run It Fast®.

Joshua Holmes has completed 325 marathons/ultramarathons while running 100+ miles 62 including races such as the Badwater 135 (9x), Western States 100, The Last Annual Vol State 500K (4x). He is the founder of Run It Fast, the most driven club on the planet. His favorite races to date are the Vol State 500K, Badwater 135, Barkley Fall Classic, Catalina Eco Marathon, Chimera 100, Across The Years, Savage Gulf Trail Marathon, Strolling Jim 40 Miler, Tunnel Hill 100, RUTS, EC100 and the Flying Monkey Marathon in his home state of Tennessee. Follow @bayou Follow @joshuaholmes on Instagram

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One Response to “Out of the Ashes, Humanity Will Win the Boston Marathon”

  1. Kirk says:

    Having known you for many years now and shared many conversations with you, I know you put lots of thoughts and prayers into what is written above. I run, not a lot, I do it because its my therapy, my release from a profession where all I see is generally bad. I do it for the “high” I feel when I get done. A high that has to be better than any drug. I represent people who do bad things. Things like steal, murder and rape. Running allows me to deal with the things I see and hear. I won’t call the person or persons who did this a coward. It took guts. But I will call them a coward for trying to intimidate Americans and runners from all over the world. Whoever did this will not accomplish their ultimate goal. They will be caught and will be punished. At the end of the day we will still run. Not from anything, but towards something. Maybe one day I will represent someone like this person. And when done, I will run. I will run so my kids can see their father accomplish his goals and they can see that they can also accomplish their goals. I will run, in an odd way, to have the strength to represent my clients. I will run to the finish line to show this coward that he cannot accomplish whatever goal he had.
    Josh as you already know the conversations we have had through the years mean the world to me. What you have written with such thought will forever stand out just like all the conversations in the past. Your running inspired me to run. Your words inspire me to live right and run it fast.


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