Association of International Marathons and Distance Races

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Opinion B.A.A. Boston Marathon

01 July 2013, 7am

It has been two months since that horrific day in April when the marathon, our city and our sport was changed forever. I can still see the images and hear the sounds of that fateful day, which began as “Marathon Monday” always does, full of excitement, tension and celebration.

Boston – running strong

by Guy Morse

As an organizer of such a large event – or indeed any size of event – you no doubt understand the nervousness and excitement, as a full year’s work comes to fruition, the presentation of the marathon given up to the care of so many others who collectively make up the team that has labored along with you toward this common goal.

That memory seems surreal at times: every organizer’s worst nightmare. But it remains so real, with the tangible impact everywhere in Boston and still on the minds of everyone who lives, works or comes to visit our great city.
While the physical and emotional injuries suffered that day have begun to heal for some, for those hurt most the pain lingers, and will for years to come.

Yet I am struck, heartened really, at the outpouring of support and offers of help that have come from all areas of the world and all segments of the sporting community. My early fear that running events will be adversely affected, will be muted, that spectators will not come to watch and volunteers will not show up, is not at all what has happened. Incredibly, the outcome has been just the opposite.

Support for, and interest in, the Boston Marathon and all running events appears to be at an all-time high. Providing some level of satisfaction is the very real fact that whatever the terrorists’ objectives might have been, the opposite has come true.

To be sure, public safety officials are hard at work searching for answers, and what we all might learn going forward. But what are we as organizers to do?

The answer lies in the title above : “Boston Strong = Running Strong”.

Running is one of the highest symbols of freedom and life itself; it’s in our very ‘DNA’ as human beings, and we are reminded yet again that life itself is very precious.

As a result of the attack, there has been a genuine and widespread realization that running events, and the freedom to participate in them, is precious to us all: to runners, to spectators, to volunteers and to the wider communities that support them.

Clearly the unique and incredibly strong and vital bond between volunteers, spectators and runners cannot be shaken.

In the final analysis it is up to all of us to come together in meaningful and deliberate ways both as individuals and as running events. We can have no better response, no better counter to the dilemma that confronts us as peace-loving people.

Public safety agencies at all levels, locally, nationally and internationally are striving to share information and learn ‘best practices’. Our sport will be well served by doing the same.

Respect, collaboration, communication and vigilance will be required as never before, in order to restore confidence and ensure even greater success in the new world in which we must all live.

The determination, resiliency and compassion that has been evident these past months are exactly the hallmarks that are often used to describe the Boston Marathon itself, and in fact very accurately describe the sport of running as we all know and love it: Boston Strong = Running Strong.

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Cover: Runners in the Moscow Half Marathon held on 2 August. Over 9500 runners finished along with nearly 2500 others in the supporting 5km event. Winners were Rinas Akhmadeev (1:04:24) and Elena Korobkina (1:10:29). Korobkina went on to win the 10km event held in association with the Absolute Moscow Marathon on 20 September in a time of 31:49. Around 9500 finished the Marathon along with another 12,000 in the 10km.

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