THE TIMING WAS what took the wind out of me.
“Three hours after the winners finished”. Peak time. These explosions were timed to cause the largest number of casualties possible.
For those unfamiliar with marathon running, here are the basics.
The elite runners come in between 2 hours 10 minutes and 2 hours 30. The good club runners come in a little after 3 hours. The seriously fat guys like me are somewhere in the 6 hour plus range. The bulk of the runners fall somewhere in between.
The vast bulk of runners come in between 4 and 6 hours, the runners who aren’t going to set any personal bests but would be expecting warm receptions from their friends after they finish.
This wasn’t timed just to get maximum exposure, to make a statement. If the perpetrators had wanted that they’d have set it off close to 2 hours 10, they’d also have had to be able to detonate directly. Not relying on timing. That would have been awful and unspeakable enough but this was a whole other level of sick.
Unspeakable, it’s a strange word. Gets the description across but this isn’t a time not to speak.
Boston is one of the World Marathon Majors, one of the biggest marathons on the planet. A race marathoners of all standards aspire to do. In 2008 I ran New York, another major, and with all the best regard to the races in Dublin, Belfast, and Cork, the crowds for one of the world’s biggest races are extraordinary. They pick you up, they will you to run faster. They stay for hours more than most of the media, whose priority naturally is to file reports on the elite race. Some will stay for the human interest angle but many would be gone home by the time most runners cross the line.
Deaths happen in marathons. Of the eight I’ve participated in two people died, both from health related reasons. It’s a risk, a particularly small one it must be noted, that all runners know and don’t worry about. It’s extremely unlikely to be them. The morning after that race in New York there were floral tributes left at the finish line for the runner who died. That can be explained. The families will grieve but they will at least be able to be comforted. Death never makes sense but in time the loved ones can come to terms with it.
How do you explain this to anyone in Boston today? It was Patriot’s Day, a public holiday in Massachusetts. The marathon was part of a day-long celebration of sport in the city. The Red Sox had beaten the Rays earlier at Fenway Park. The Bruins were supposed to be hosting the Senators in the NHL.
The people the perpetrators hurt, and I won’t dignify them with any nouns that could embellish their status, are charity runners. They are your office colleagues. They are your friends in college. They are people who sought to cheer on the runners who had come to their city. These are the people that were hurt today. Not a system. Just regular people.
Our sincerest sympathies go out to all those hurt by yesterday’s events.