On the third Monday of April, known as Patriot's Day, Massachusetts will once again host the Boston Marathon. The marathon began in 1897, making it the oldest annual marathon and it is one of six World Marathon Majors. Remarkably enough, it wasn't until 1972 that the first woman legitimately ran the race. By 2011, 43% of the participants were women.
The Boston Marathon is a qualifying race. This means that each runner must have previously completed in a timely manner another standard marathon course. The event attracts a half million spectators each year with an average of 20,000 runners. The Centennial Boston Marathon had record numbers with 38,708 entrants, 36,748 starters and 35,868 finishers.
Last year, in 2013, 26,839 runners were registered to run in the Boston Marathon. Three hours after the winners crossed the finish line, two bombs exploded; the race was halted, three people were killed and over 200 others were injured. Runners who completed at least half the course, but did not finish the race due to the bombings will get automatic entry in the 2014 race.
I wonder how many of those automatically re-entered will run. I assume that security will be greatly enhanced and that some people will feel that they have to run to honor those who were hurt or killed. But still, if I were running in the Boston Marathon, I would be super nervous. It is a sad state of affairs when our traditions and celebrations are clouded with thoughts of dying suddenly and unexpectedly at the hands of terrorists. The is the true tragedy of terrorism - that we live our lives in fear. I know that around the world, this is not an occasional thought or fear, but the first and foremost thought upon awakening and the last thought before going to bed. Thank goodness, for most Americans, we do not need to worry about being shot or having a bomb dropped upon our heads on a daily basis.
So, you runners out there and those particularly in Boston, thank you, good luck and Godspeed.