Note: We typically write our blog posts as a “we”, but as Suzanne prepares to run her 18th and 19th marathons in the next two weeks she wanted to put together her thoughts around what happened at the Boston Marathon on Monday.
When the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart on January 28, 1986, just 73 seconds into flight, I was in the third grade. It is the first national tragedy I remember experiencing. As we processed the tragedy around the dinner table that night as a family my dad said, “You will always remember where you were when this happened. That’s how it is with tragic events like this. You will always remember where you were when it happened. ”
It’s true. I’ve lived long enough now to know that this is true and my dad was right.
Similarly, I was at a conference in Minneapolis last week where Event 360 CEO Jeff Shuck was making a point about outliers when he said that if someone asked you to remember a day from last year you wouldn’t remember an average day. No, you would remember an outlier. You would remember a day that stands out from all other days. Monday was definitely one of those outliers for me, as it was for many others across the country and around the world.
This Monday will stand out from last Monday. It will stand out from next Monday and the Monday after that. In fact, it will stand out from all other Mondays that I can remember. It will be a day remembered in history and it will be a day that changed the running community forever.
Having been a runner for most of my life, I can say that the running community is one of the most supportive communities I have ever known. There is something about enduring shared challenges that brings people closer together. I have had conversations with strangers during marathons that I never would have had if we had been sitting next to each other on an airplane or a subway. I have shared intimate moments during marathons with people I will never see again. I have seen through running the kindness of which people are capable and it is that kindness that gives me hope for the future.
My immediate reaction to Monday’s tragic events was – what is wrong with people and what is wrong with the world? After thinking through it some more, however, I have come to realize that Monday’s tragic events showed more of what’s right with people and with the world than what’s wrong with them.
Yes, someone intentionally set out to hurt other people. It’s horrible and unconscionable. But when that happened, other people immediately jumped in to help. People were kind. People were selfless. People were brave. People who had been strangers just moments before came together as a community and helped one other. So although a lot of bad happened on Monday, a lot of good happened too.
My Event 360 colleagues and I make a living by making the world a better place. And, because we work so hard to take away peoples’ pain, I cannot fathom doing something that would cause people more pain instead of less, and yet it happens. Try as we might we will never control all of the bad in the world. What we can control, however, is the good. We can be kind. We can be selfless. We can be brave. We can show the world that there is still a lot of good in it, just like the runners, spectators, staff and volunteers of the Boston Marathon did on Monday. They reacted to the bad by creating more good. They were kind, they were selfless, they were brave. My heart goes out to them and I will always remember where I was when this happened.