President's Column - May 2023

Jerry McDaniel, President

The 10-year anniversary of the bombings at the Boston marathon brought back quite a few memories for me last month. We were there with several friends from Tallahassee and stayed at the host hotel quite close to the finish line. Unusual for me, I do not recall anything particularly about the marathon itself other than the bus ride out to Hopkinton and the hype and excitement that brings before the race. Once underway, most everyone runs their own speed, so we were spread out along the way headed back into Boston. Jackie did not run but we had agreed that she would try to spot me and the others coming into the finish area along Boylston Street and then meet up in the hotel room. We have had past miscues on locating each other post-race in large marathons. I finished, can’t recall if I spotted her or not, but she saw me and others, then headed to the room. Once finished, I located the bus with my dry clothes, swapped them out, and began the circuitous walk/limp to get back to the hotel amid road closures, crowds, and barricades. As I was about to enter the hotel, I heard the loudest explosion I have ever heard and certainly the closest. At the time, I characterized it as the sound of a locomotive hitting the side of a building broadside. Everyone around me just stared in utter confusion and bewilderment! I hesitated outside, heard the second one…this one not as close. Before I entered the hotel, there appeared from nowhere, dozens of blacked out SUVs(FBI), sirens blaring and screeching to a halt nearby. Complete chaos seemed to be unfolding. I eventually entered the hotel, only to find people running up and down hallways, some screaming about possible terrorists. Making it to the room, I found Jackie safe, but many of our friends unaccounted for. The hotel went into complete lockdown. The TV news began revealing the situation. Cell networks were down, so it was many long hours until all of our friends reported in and were accounted for. You may not realize the deep intrinsic value of your friends and family until you face the prospect of not seeing them again. Tears were shed until all were located. A couple of anecdotes about this event, one scary, one sort of funny. As it turned out, Jackie’s viewing location, front and center behind a barricade on Boylston Street was diagonally across the street from where the 2nd bomb detonated. Had my friends and I been a bit slower, she might have sustained some shrapnel from the blast! On a separate note, we had not mailed our taxes that year, but had taken them with us to deposit in the mail while in Boston. We did just that the day before the race. As luck would have it, the mailbox we placed our taxes in was blown to pieces by one of the bombs! A turn on “my dog ate my homework,” but we finally did get the IRS to believe us. Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the innocent victims and families in Boston that day. Hey, do you think the starting line at local club races is getting a little close? Are there folks in your personal space? It is not your imagination. A quick comparison of some of the bigger club races so far this year shows a continual uptick in runners when comparing 2022 to 2023. For instance, the marathon was up 12%, the half up 40%, Springtime across all 3 races up 12%, and Palace up a whopping 87%! Happy to see this return and continual improvement in race attendance post COVID! Lastly, Jackie and I would like to thank all of our sponsors, all of our friends, club members and non-club members who volunteered and helped make the Springtime races a success this year! Keep on running, biking, walking, swimming, being a gym rat… just keep moving! And VOLUNTEER!

FROM THE PRESIDENT

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