I grew up in Boston and my childhood memories of the Marathon are vivid. What’s especially obscene about the bomb attack is the desecration of an event that was unusually pure.
The marathon symbolized the best in people. Whole families lined the early phases of the route to offer water or spritz the runners as they headed through Boston suburbs. Children in Boston, who got the day off from school, headed by subway to Copley Square – or earlier phases of the route - with their parents, to try to get a glimpse of the runners.
Participants came from all over the world, and the crowd along the route cheered them all, with special pride that so many foreign runners participated. There were also special cheers for those who ran more slowly but kept slogging determinedly to the finish line an hour or more after the winners.
It was the guts and determination of the slower runners – many middle aged - that people clapped for, not merely the winners. Some people joined the route just to cheer the stragglers on. For runners the competition was mainly with one’s self, trying to finish the course or beat a previous time.
The Boston Marathon was entirely an upbeat event, everyone in good spirits, runners being hugged by family at the finish line. Some headed off to a restaurant to celebrate their completion of the race, others headed to the airport to fly home. At Logan Airport, people used to congratulate anyone who showed signs of having been in the competition.
There is something particularly sick – even beyond the criminality and cowardice of such an attack – in attacking a race so full of goodness. And this event is so global – with runners from around the world – that the bomb attack was truly an attack on the world..