Helping Boston’s Victims

Without a doubt, you’ve likely seen a tremendous outpouring of support for Boston and the victims of the horrific attack last week.  There are so many people who were impacted and injured it’s almost unbelievable. 

All last week – and even as we headed into this week, local running clubs all over the country (and perhaps world) were holding solidarity runs for Boston.  People ran to honor those injured and killed. 

While each of those impacted certainly is worthy of being honored, I fear that so many of those impacted will have a greater burden to bear.  The sheer monetary cost of the crime will be difficult for many to overcome.  I can only imagine how staggering the medical bills and costs for ongoing care will be for the most injured.  Far too many will incur huge medical bills.  Many will be out of work due to their injuries.

There has been no shortage of fundraising efforts, either.  The One Fund was established as one way to get funds to the victims.  Announced earlier this week by Massachusetts Governor Patrick and Boston Mayor Merino, the fund was seeded with a $1,000,000 committment from John Hancock.

Closer to home, the triathlon community is stepping up to support victims of the bombing.

Rev3 Triathlon announced yesterday that it was partnering with the city of Knoxville and the University of Tennessee Athletic Department and will be donating all proceeds from the Revolution3 Glow Run 5k – which will be held on Friday evening, May 3rd – to help fund the treatment and recovery of a former UT swimmer, Nicole Gross.

Nicole was near the finish line with her husband and a friend when the bombs went off.  She suffered a catastrophic leg injury – and has had at least seven surgeries already.  Her sister was also critically injured.

If you’re planning on being in Knoxville for Rev3’s race that weekend, hopefully you’ll consider also running in the Glow Run 5k on Friday night.  If you’re not able to race – or aren’t even going to Knoxville for the weekend, please consider making a direct donation to help Nicole with her medical bills.  You can contribute directly at www.bestrongstaystrong.net.

I’m encouraging you to help support those affected by this tragedy.  Please consider supporting Rev3’s efforts to raise money for Nicole.  Please make a donation to the One Fund.  I know that I’m going to do both.

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A Terrorist’s Impact on Endurance Events

Exactly seven days ago we were struck by a horrific terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon.  The deaths and injuries were horrific and full of gore, as we all know.  By week’s end the terrorists were dead or apprehended, bringing one chapter of the event to a close.  Certainly the story will have more and more chapters for those who were impacted directly or indirectly.  Bodies will heal.  People will cope with the stress and mental trauma.  Perhaps law enforcement will find out what motivated the attack.

In some regard, life will begin to return to normal.  (That could be a blog post in and of itself…whether or how we could return to normal after a horrific and tragic event like last Monday’s.)  Our sport, on the other hand, while physically the same – we’ll still swim, bike and run – likely will change in many ways both large and small.

Imagine the life of a race director now, post-Boston.  While I’m sure that RD’s already had a multitude of considerations at play, now they need to worry so many more things.  Among their concerns could be having to worry about having cameras on the course (or at least if buildings along the course have cameras).  Do they need to have hazmat teams available?  Should patrons and spectators in finish line areas be expected to go through security screening?  How do you contain an entire course (upwards of 140 miles) such that a would-be terrorist can’t harm an athlete?  Can you even contain a full course?  Should RD’s employ undercover police officers to monitor race expos?  What degree of background checking of volunteers should the race organization do?  How can they guard against food-borne terrorism? 

Any person with even scant imagination could dream up untold scenarios where athletes in endurance events could be at risk.  Frankly, all the potential concerns are a little overwhelming to me.  I’m glad that is not my day-job.  Truth be told, I’m even more appreciative of the hard work that race directors and race companies do now that I’m beginning to think about all of this stuff.

Here’s my perspective.  I really hope that endurance events don’t change.  Certainly RD’s and race companies owe us a duty to make sure that we’re safe…and that hasn’t changed just because of Boston.  I hope that just because of last week that race experiences don’t pale.  I hope that Rev3 continues to have a great finish line experience.  I hope thousands of spectators line up along marathon routes.  I hope people continue to flock to places like New York, London, Kona, Los Angeles, Cedar Point and Boston so that they can compete in big marquis events.  I also hope that athletes and spectators alike continue to go to races in Greensboro, Boise, Fort Wayne, Knoxville or Jacksonville. 

Surely there are some things that will change as a result of Boston.  Perhaps there will be tightened security.  Maybe there will be bomb-sniffing dogs or more surveillance cameras.  There could even be armed competitors (think air marshalls in aero :-)).  Lord knows, registration costs could go up.  But so what?  You and I – we’ll continue to do events.  We will keep running.  Biking.  Going to triathlons.  Marathons.  And if we’re lucky, more and more people will also.  In fact, I predict that demand for the 2014 Boston marathon will be higher than ever.  Perhaps all marathons will be like that.

People will be concerned about safety, but at the end of the day we will not allow ourselves to become paralyzed in fear.  We will run for those hurt or killed in Boston.  We’ll continue to have completing an iron-distance race on our bucket list.  New athletes will do their “couch to 5k” plans. 

And that is a GREAT thing!

When Evil Brings Out the Best

I spent a good part of the late morning yesterday watching the Boston Marathon online.  I was particularly intrigued by the women’s race, and enjoyed watching the race unfold over the last six miles.  I was awed by the sheer speed that the lead groups – both men and women – were running.  It blew my mind to think that athletes can run five-minute miles for that distance.  I laughed at the commentators saying that a pace of 5:30/mile was “loping along”.

That awe, and likely any awe you might have had as well, flipped to shock and horror in the span of 12 seconds around 3pm when some coward purposefully hurt and killed innocent people for a reason that I will never, ever understand.

The local newspaper headline today read, “This is what we should expect when we’re at war.”  Certainly we are at war.  Most of us, though, don’t have to experience it played out so close to home.  War happens in the world, but it happens in places like Iraq or Afghanistan.  In Syria.  In Israel.  But not here.  Not in the United States.  It’s a foreign concept for most of us; and difficult for us to wrap our minds around.

My feelings today are mixed.  I’m certainly sad for those injured or killed.  I’m dismayed.  I fear for how my life would change were I involved in this tragedy.  I’m heartbroken for those who suffered traumatic injuries.  I read this morning of two brothers who each lost a leg in the blasts.  The senseless violence of this hurts.

I’m disgusted as well.  I’ve seen way too many pictures of blood.  Of injured people.  I’m angry at people who tweeted and retweeted images of the carnage.  I’m not sure why we need to see those images and what compelled people to send them out.

Confusion is another emotion I’m feeling today.  I suppose I understand why some people might not like actions and decisions that our government might make.  Without a doubt, our government has done (or not done) things that could be viewed as awful, antagonistic, lethargic or uncaring.  I suspect that literally every government in the world has done similar things.  Having a beef with a government is one thing.  Attacking innocent people is another issue, and one that I’ll never understand.

Perhaps the most overwhelming emotion I’ve had in the past 17 hours is awe.  I’ve been awed by the reactions and actions of so many in Boston.  Courage.  Kindness.  Giving.  Literally seconds after the blasts, first responders, bystanders and even athletes ran directly towards the carnage to render first aid.  Their first concern was helping others and not running and cowering for their safety.  I wonder had I been in that situation what I would have done.  Would I have run away?  Would I have dropped everything to help others?  I hope I’d have helped people, but I just don’t know.

I’ve read of athletes taking off shirts to create tourniquets.  Of local Bostonians offering up their apartments and homes to athletes who didn’t have a place to go.  Of athletes comforting one another on Boston Common.  Of people going out of their way to help others.  A big topic online today is solidarity.  Runners all over the globe are wearing blue and yellow.  They’re wearing race shirts.  There’s a huge sense of family and togetherness that has come from this tragic event.  And that is a great thing.  The human spirit is unstoppable.  It’s innate that we come together in community to love each other, to help, to share joy and to grieve.  Even despite the pain and suffering endured by so many, the fact that people have come together in such a wonderful way is overjoying.

That will be my lasting memory of this tragedy.