As a group, runners are very supportive. Daily, I see others on the trail and am greeted by smiles and a look of familiarity that says “we are in this together.” I go to the local park, and after every 5.5 mile loop, my local run shop has a water station staffed with volunteers ready to cheer me on as I make my rounds. We have couch to 5k programs that encourage people to begin the journey to an active lifestyle, not because their body image doesn’t match what mass media says it should be, but because we know how great it is to wake up each day feeling more alive than the one before. We are cause-oriented, looking to support something far greater than ourselves. Each year, runners raise millions in that pursuit. It is that camaraderie, support, and dedication that makes this running community so special.
But now, after Boston, our community is different. Those connections on the trail are more poignant than ever. We are not only in this together, but we are in this for those who cannot be. A local run shop not only has a water station, they have created a new race, the “We Are Unstoppable” 5K, dedicated to helping the wounded with the daunting costs and uniting the community. For some, a couch to 5K program now includes learning how to walk again with prosthesis, and they are surrounded with coaches, rehabilitation specialists, and droves of advocates. When it comes to charity, The One Fund, the charity formed by the Boston Mayor and Massachusetts Governor, has raised over $30,000,000. So much money that they will have to make tough decisions about how to distribute the money.
I am proud to work for a company that answered that call for support both by monetary donation, and in organizing a run amongst our employees in honor of those who were unable to finish in Boston. Though we set out to run one marathon, the cheers from those we passed on the streets and our deep-rooted passion drove the group to complete over four full marathons on the three-week anniversary of the race. Stories like this are everywhere in our community right now; such a beautiful response to terror and tragedy.
So, our community is different now. We are more connected, we care for each other in new ways, we give more than ever, and we face new obstacles as one. We are not a group to be put down or counted out. We take the bumps in the road in stride, and rise together to a new standard of what it means to be a runner, a patriot, and a friend. I am honored to be a part of this community…this family of runners.