Wednesday, April 17, 2013

To Whom It May Concern

April 15th, 2013 was supposed to be a big celebration of running, in the form of the 117th edition of the Boston Marathon, the oldest and most prestigious annual marathon in the world.

As it turned out, two bombs exploded there, killing three and seriously injuring hundreds.

This was a BIG incident for all runners worldwide. Though I am neither a fast nor efficient runner, I love running enough to feel violated by this attack.

To me, and I believe most runners, running is a sanctuary. An activity where I can be alone, or, be with fellow runners and enjoy the camaraderie.

Most times, I enjoy the actual motion of putting one foot in front of the other. Yet there are also instances when all I want to do is curse myself and get the run over and done with.

What other sports allow you to do all the above? More accurately, what other sports allow you to do all the above, and then, give you a sizable kick of endorphin afterwards?

Most runners would agree that days begun with morning runs, are usually better than those without. With a feeling of natural high to start the day, you are well prepared to interact and think things through.

For those who are emotional yet do not wear their hearts on their sleeves (like me), regular running may lead to a continued state of controlled calmness. And this state of mind, what Cesar Millan calls "calm assertive," tends to serve us well in most life situations.

I took it for granted that this sanctuary, and all the bells and whistles it afforded me, was my right.

At midnight on April 15th in Jakarta (which was Monday morning Boston time, due to the 11-hour time difference), I was excited to get updates of the first few finishers of the Boston Marathon. Then I went to sleep.

When I woke up the morning of April 16th, I found my sanctuary shattered. To pieces.

It was with disbelief that I learned about the bombs that went off at Boston Marathon. My heart sank when I read about the 8 year-old boy who was (essentially) murdered, while waiting for his father at the finish line.

I have three children, one of whom is also 8 years old. And I like to see my family waiting for me at the finish area of running events. In that instant, I wasn't so sure anymore.

In fact, my belief system vis-à-vis running had been shaken considerably.


If a running event in America, with their relatively stringent security measures, could be breached to the amount of 7 explosive devices (with 2 reportedly detonated), what kind of dangers would running in other countries pose to us runners, and our family members?

Would the perpetrator of the Boston Marathon bombing be ecstatic that they were "successful" (whatever their unfathomable definition of the word)? Would this be the absurd "model" going forward?

After the tragedy, I came across an article at Runner's World newswire, aptly titled "Boston Bombings: A Loss of Innocence." INDEED.

Now we have to think twice before signing up for running events. Now we must consider if bringing our loved ones to races is a good idea. And thousands of other thoughts rummaged through my mind.

Running, suddenly, is not so pure anymore.


Whomever was behind this, I have no clue why you did it. If, by chance, you thought you were attacking America by bombing the Boston Marathon, you are dead. Wrong.

Your attack fell squarely on us, runners. And we are everywhere in the world.

There was some ramblings about "why make a big fuss about the Boston Marathon disaster, when country X also had this non-running incident (which took more lives)?"

Respectfully, here is my answer (without diminishing the meaning of lives lost in other incidents):

If country X (wherever it may be) was the host of a running event in the caliber, and with the 117 year history, of the Boston Marathon, and the bombs exploded there, my reaction, and horror, would be the same.

I am speaking specifically as a runner (albeit not a good one). In this respect, you the perpetrator have attacked runners worldwide, regardless of our faith and skin color.

Damn you.

Fortunately for us, we runners don't take things sitting down.

We will continue to run, to honor everyone affected by the Boston Marathon tragedy.

The day after, Scott Jurek tweeted "You Never Know How Strong You Are, Until Being Strong Is The Only Choice You Have"

If we runners are going to remain runners, the only choice we have is to remain strong.

And we will remain strong by continuing to put one foot in front of the other.

Mari Lari! *

* Bahasa Indonesia for "Let's Run!"

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