The Herald Bulletin

April 19, 2013

Jack Molitor: Terrorists picked the wrong group to bully


— They want us to step with trepidation. They want to break our spirits. They want us to stop. They want to change everything.

Whoever planned the attacks on the Boston Marathon hasn’t met many marathoners.

An otherwise perfect spring day in Boston was transformed into something ugly Monday. The joyous and triumphant atmosphere felt at the finish line of any marathon was replaced with horror as two bombs detonated near the final stretch of the race. Shrapnel exploded out of pressure-cooked metal containers stored in backpacks at the feet of innocent spectators. More than 180 were hurt. Some lost limbs. Three were killed.

We were all affected.

Twenty-six point two isn’t the toughest race, but it’s a good demarcation dividing someone trying to shed some pounds and someone looking to test their limits. Every serious runner, myself included, dreams about tearing down the final chute at Boston, crossing the line and having their names recorded with the elite. It is the crown jewel of the runner’s world.

Watching the full-audio version of the explosions turned the dream into a nightmare.

Running provides an escape for pavement pounders. It allows you to create a world where you make the rules, challenge yourself and win every day. For a fraternity that prides itself on overcoming trials, it felt like a defeating moment. It was an invasion of my world. An attack on everything good.

And then, with cameras rolling, the indefatigable spirit was put on display. Runners and spectators could be seen dashing toward the explosions. Joining first responders, these heroes ignored the flowing streams of blood on the sidewalk and their own fears to render assistance. By the logic of terrorism, it was reasonable to think another explosion could soon follow. They risked their lives.

Mass chaos. Mass fear. And still, humans ran to save other humans. It was a welcome sign of humanity in a time when faith in humanity seems to be diminished. For any runner who helped, the external fears they felt were probably comparable to many internal demons vanquished during years and months of training.

As someone who’s finished seven marathons, typically the last thing you want to do at the end of a race is give anything else. But several news outlets reported runners continued from the finish line over to Mass General Hospital to donate blood after the attack.

This is humbling. It will heighten awareness. But it will not defeat this world we’ve created. Shortly after the bombings, upcoming races around the world including London, Cincinnati and the Indianapolis Mini announced they will be run as planned.

The terrorists who planned the Boston attack picked the wrong crowd if they were trying to single out a group to force into submission. Most of us have been ignoring our limitations for years.

The evil minds might have accomplished one thing: they’ve changed us.

Every runner will have that much more purpose in their step during their next race.

Find Jack Molitor on Facebook and @AggieJack4 on Twitter, or call 640-4883.