A View From the Top – April 16, 2013
I complained because I had no shoes until I met a man that had no feet” (Proverb)
I was going to write about beautiful, glorious Torreya. Incredible north Florida springtime, blue skies, wild azaleas, blooming red Indian Pink, blue birds and pileated woodpeckers, and many good friends last weekend, reunited, running and racing in the Garden Of Eden.
Then by chance it was marathon morning. Patriots Day! I lived in Boston from 1967-1971 and ran untold thousands of miles there. And I ran the Boston Marathon in 1968, maybe 1969, and we were bandits in 1970 and 1971, but no matter. I have followed it from close and from far every year since. For many years you got nothing but some sketchy news for weeks after the race if you didn’t live there or in nearby New England. Then there were late evening sports shows, which, if at all, gave a bare 30 seconds or less to it. Then an article or two in Runners World, or better, in Running Times. Then it was shown by tape delay on television. Then, you could actually watch it live on television at your favorite sports bar starting on your lunch hour, of which I did plenty. Then the marathon was moved to a morning start, and eventually to pay per view only and even later to a live free feed on the Internet if you were adventuresome enough to find out where, which really was not much of a challenge.
Anyway, April 15 and I am going to write about the beautiful, glorious race at Torreya, but first the live feed to Hopkington. 1 Ash Street. Still the starting line. Patriots Day, the third Monday in April, commemorating the Battles Of Lexington and Concord. Battles for freedom, battles to defeat tyranny.
The screen opens to the camera panning over the start of the wheelchair race, starting before the main field. What a morning, beautiful, glorious sunshine! Dozens of competitors, colorful racing gear. Men and women, no legs, useless legs. But I don’t see that. I see massive chests and shoulders, vein popping arms, trip hammer hearts beating in fiercely competitive bodies, fueled by fiercely competitive minds. People who refuse to accept their limits and obvious limitations, and who choose to reset those limits elsewhere or to ignore them altogether. Were it that I could be so mighty, so strong, so graceful. Yes, graceful. No complaints. Opportunity. Not inexplicably, I feel tears of admiration welling up in my eyes.
A touching rendition of America The Beautiful. Then they are off…
The headlines speak of many injustices, injuries and death. And will do so for many days to come.
Only cowards place ordinary men, women and children into the front lines. Little Martin Richard, barely 8 years old, smiling his little front tooth gapped grin, holding his hand drawn sign that says “No more hurting people. Peace.” Dead. A little boy blown to pieces. His face will be the face of the Boston Marathon for the rest of my life.
Martin, I am sorry. How do I explain this to you? I will not ever forget you.
It is obscene. In Boston on Patriots Day in 2013, the finish line mimics the starting line of the wheelchair race. Dozens of people have lost one or both lower limbs. Traumatic amputation by the force of the blast. The bombs were designed to do just that. Aim low, fill with nails and ball bearings. Kill and maim anyone and everyone. How do some people treat life so indiscriminately?
In some ways the Battle of Concord and Lexington are not over. Never will be either.
And you faceless, nameless, spiritless coward and filthy murderer of little children and women, I will not ever forget you either.