Of Courage…. and Cowardice

Posted on April 18th, 2013

3439070166_5556125aa9_zI believe that there is no sporting event quite like a marathon.

The marathon is the Olympics for the ordinary person. The ordinary person doing an extraordinary thing. A sporting event in which complete amateurs can take their position on the starting line alongside world class athletes. A sporting event where the majority of participants, the vast majority, are competing not to win, but to prove to themselves what they are capable of.

Anyone reading this can complete a marathon. Really. Train for about four or five months, and if you are mentally dedicated to completing a marathon, you will do so.

No, it’s not easy. Not at all. It will take running when you don’t feel like it, running in bad weather, running with aches and pains and blisters. But the one thing it does not require is innate, natural ability. You will never throw a ball for the Ravens or the Yankees. You will not win an Olympic Gold Medal in anything, not even synchronized swimming. But you CAN finish a marathon if you are determined enough.

At some point during the marathon, your body has had enough. It is at this point — whether at 20 or 30 or 40 kilometers where finishing all depends on your mind. It is no longer a physical challenge, it is a mental one. And when you cross that finish line, you will remember doing so all your life.

With a smile.

That’s what makes a marathon so special. Finishing is an act more of courage than of physical ability. Courage not to give in when your body says “enough.” Courage to forget the office, the supermarket, the errands that dominate our lives. Courage to be that elite athlete for a few hours.

There is no feeling in the world like stepping across that finish line. You did it. Someone will drape a finisher’s medallion around your neck and you will treat it like a gold medal. You give a tired but proud smile to everyone else stepping over that line. You are now part of a special community.

I have seen children run and greet fathers and mothers and run over the finish line with them, eyes brimming with pride. Everyone who crosses that line receives a hearty cheer from friends and strangers and fellow runners. There is no feeling like it.

525444_405258819581937_353282163_nI can think of no act more cowardly then building a bomb, loading it with ball bearings to cause the greatest harm, hiding it at the finish line of a marathon and then scurrying away with tail between legs. Seconds after hugging his dad at the finish line, a young boy was killed by the bomber. Oh, it was for a cause? Yeah right. No cause on the planet justifies this act.

Can you imagine how this boy’s father must have felt. To be hugged by his son at one of his greatest accomplishments and then losing him a few seconds later. (His other daughter lost a leg and his wife is currently in critical condition.)

Every runner in Boston, every single one, every marathon runner anywhere has more courage in their smallest toenail than the bomber’s whole body. Not even close.

I wish I could stop watching the videos and reading the accounts.

But I can’t.

I’ve been there. I know the emotions of finishing a marathon. I know how incredibly special that finish line is. I look at the faces of the Boston runners and see my own and my friends’. I see the picture of the little boy and think of my youngest when I come home from a race, always asking for the finisher’s medallion.

The marathon is nothing more than a celebration of life. And now a cowardly rat has made it something dark.

They will catch this bastard. He will most likely spout some garbage about whatever sick cause motivated him to murder people, and to murder hope. And then I hope they put him on a treadmill and make him run for hours or maybe years. Because unlike a marathon runner, when his body gives out, he has no courage to rely on.

As a runner and as a human being, two things that do not apply to the pig behind this barbaric act, my heart goes out to all those in Boston. And I am sure I will always have you in my thoughts when I run.

Martin, Krystle, Lu — You will always be counted among the heroes of running.

Yarden Frankl, Israel





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  1. Sharon Baratt says: