Boston Marathon Memorials Part X: Allen, Germain, Kanev

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As we prepare for the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon tragedy, Level Renner is re-releasing the memorials and reflections of the running community written one year ago in the wake of the 117th running (these letters from readers were originally published in our May/June 2013 issue). Our intention is to pay proper respect and tribute to the events of last year’s race. We want nothing more than to handle the tragedy with appropriateness and tact. Because we see ourselves as an open platform for runners, this series is an expression of our audience’s thoughts from a year ago.  Thus, in the following pages, you will find an array of responses.  Some are angry, some are numb, most are just plain sad.  But some offer hope. Most show the strength and resolve of our community. The goal of this series is to remember and pay proper respect to the horrific events of April 15, 2013.  We will release one post per day in this series in the days leading up to the marathon.

Below is the tenth installment of our twelve part series. Gary Allen (ultra-marathoner extrordinaire), Matt Germain (SISU Project), and Svilen Kanev wrote these reflections.

4 Kenyans at race HQ sitting silently, respectfully, and totally bewildered. Sad to see the greatest runners on earth brought to their knees.  Sometimes we don’t even think they are human by the way they run. I can now say for certain they are.

—Gary Allen

photo by EJN

Running for me is a journey into the purest parts of myself. A race for me is always a chance to spread my wings. Love, light, and passion lift me higher and higher, to places I could not imagine. My primary reason for being is to share experiences like these with others. This is why I founded the Sisu Project. I am beyond grateful that all my teammates, friends, and family members were not injured. This attack infringed on a truly sacred territory. My commitment to my team, this sport, and all those who stand for peace and humanity will remain unwavering.

—Matthew Germain

photo by EJN

I was on the T today, several hundred meters away from the marathon finish line. I was watching the many finishers taking the train with me, being slightly jealous that I was not able to run this year. In my head I was thinking about the training plan that would allow me to qualify for next year’s marathon, making small adjustments of what seemed possible or not. Ten minutes later, when the train pulled up at Harvard Square, I saw my Twitter feed lighting up with news of the bombing.

To say I was upset is probably an understatement. I have felt like a part of the running community lately and felt personally targeted by what was happening downtown. Heck, I remember being extremely disappointed that I couldn’t get an earlier flight back to Boston, so that I could stand at that exact same finish line.

After unsuccessfully trying to get some work done, I started walking back home. On the way, ambulances and police cars were flashing by much more often than usual. But there were also tons of people just walking their dogs, sitting at coffee shops, or even jogging. Then it occurred to me, the best answer to such acts of fear is normalcy. Of course, this by no way means not respecting the grief of those personally affected, or not wanting due justice for whoever is responsible. But for the rest of us, it is a matter of not giving in to fear and not spreading it. Doing otherwise would mean whoever organized today’s attack succeeded.

So, I will just do the normal thing. Tomorrow, I will go on my Tuesday 13-miler around the Charles, then I will do my speed work the day after and keep going with my qualification plan. This way, a year from now, I will be able to line up at the starting line in Hopkinton, among the thousands of athletes who choose to stay normal. I will power through Heartbreak Hill and eventually reach the same spot around the finish line that was covered in blood today. I will save a runner’s nod for those directly affected, the very least that they deserve. But other than that, I will choose to stay normal. Because that’s the only meaningful response to acts of terror.

Svilen Kanev

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