Nothing I can write will shed any light on the horrific events on the finish line of Monday’s Boston Marathon. The video footage we have seen repeatedly on television and the pictures in the paper tell the story far more eloquently than any number of words.
But some things we can’t say too many times. It was a cowardly attack. Bombs detonated without warning and designed to maim and injure rather than kill. Bombs planted in a place where its victims would include women and children. Attacks don’t come any more despicable and gutless than this.
But the perpetrator’s didn’t reckon with the resolve and strength of the running community it targeted or the heroism of the people of the city it bombed. The incredible courage of marshals, medics, police and runners was there for all to see. While every fibre of their being was saying run to safety, these brave people turned and ran back into the melee to help the injured without a thought for when the next device might explode. And if Boston needed a symbol of its courage and defiance they found it in 78-year old Bill Iffrig. The runner in the orange vest was watched by millions on TVas his legs buckled at the force of the first blast leaving him lying prostrate. Bill Iffrig got back up and finished the race.
This was an indiscriminate attack on an event that is almost impossible to police. It could have happened at any of the big city marathons – Tokyo, Paris, Chicago, Frankfurt, London , Barcelona or Berlin and there by the grace of God go all of us. That is why the running community is so united behind its friends in Boston. It could have been any of us.
The running community has an opportunity to answer back in less than a week. This Sunday is the London Marathon. The British public perhaps more than any population in the West understand the fear that terrorism brings and know what Boston is living through. If the bomber’s goal is to make us change our way of life and live in fear, they have picked the wrong fight. The British will turn out in their hundreds of thousands on Sunday and their cheers will be the most articulate message of support for Boston. 40,000 runners will toe the start line and run their race in a collective act of defiance and solidarity. And those of us who can’t be there will watch on television and say a prayer for our friends in Boston.
On Sunday we are all Bostonians.