Tag: community

Help Needed

Special guest blog by Sarah Crispin

boston marathon blue ribbon 4.16.13On Monday my good friend Patrick and his new wife were both hurt in the Boston Marathon Bombings.  My understanding is that they each lost a leg, and are currently in different hospitals. Right now it looks like they are both going to be okay.

I have not yet had the good fortune to meet Patrick’s wife, but Patrick was a friend of mine from The Gifford School. We carpooled together every day for my first two years at Gifford, worked together, and often went out to watch (what else) the Red Sox.

You will not find a better person. He is the kindest, most selfless man I have ever met. I have every confidence that he will handle this with the grace, style, and infallible humor that characterize him. I wish I possibly had adequate words to describe how very, truly, GOOD he is. He’s the kind of person who is there when the chips are down, miraculously appears when your car needs to be jump started, and knows when you just need a hug and no words. I absolutely love him and am heart broken that he is among the affected.

I know that he and his wife are going to have loads of medical expenses as a result of this tragedy. I’m pasting the link to Patrick’s fundraising page below. If you have a second, take a look at it. If you have a few extra dollars, please donate. If you don’t, that is really, truly, OK, but please leave a message of support. Anything is helpful.

To my Team: Thank you, thank you, thank you.

To everyone: There are lots of you seeing this (again, I am so lucky), so please DO fwd this to anyone who you think might be able and willing to help. Post it on Facebook, tweet about it, send it to all of your coworkers, your entire class, your entire team, etc., anything to get it out there.

Quick aside, also to everyone: It’s worth noting that Tim Ritchie ran 2:21 (5:24 mile pace) in his marathon debut on Monday, coming in 25th overall. That is nasty. Katie Sheedy, my former 800m training partner at Tufts, ran 2:58 (6:50 mile pace). Sorry guys, but you deserve new fans! Their hard work and grueling efforts should not be overlooked.

Thank you all so much for taking the time to read this and to think of my friend Patrick.


Lots of love, forever and always.


Let’s Do This The Right Way

Guest blog by Michael Robertson

boston marathon blue ribbon png 4.16.13It has been truly remarkable seeing the reactions of Bostonians, and non-Bostonians, in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. The stories of people helping people under the worst of circumstances are countless and inspiring. Everyone is looking for a way to honor those in the bombing and, in many respects, the day itself, but we have got to do it in the right way.

In the rush to put together commemorative events, including running/walking the last 5 miles of the course (which I understand has now been postponed), rerunning the entire Boston Marathon course, and walking in the last mile, I strongly feel that the best of intentions and noblest of thoughts have obscured careful consideration of the reality of the situation we are faced with. As I understand it, the Boston Police Department has asked that these events not take place right now. They are not city-sanctioned and do not have the proper permits. This would be a concern for events of the planned magnitude at any time and it is especially worrying at this time. The investigations are obviously still continuing, there are police officers and soldiers with machine guns lining our streets and guarding our hotels. Let’s not take their focus away from their all-important task by crowding the streets with thousands, or even dozens of people, however well-intentioned they may be.

I’m not saying don’t go out and run/walk. I’m not even saying don’t run as a group. What I am saying is please reconsider any sort of mass activity along the marathon course and certainly in the vicinity of Copley Square. I am 100% certain there will be an event in the near future that has the support of the BPD and the City. Be patient, keep your spirits up and keep supporting each other.  The time will come for us all to band together and show our support for the fallen, the wounded, and the thousands who could not cross the finish line on Patriot’s Day.  Let’s just make sure that, when that time comes, we do so the right way.


Editor’s Note: The outpouring of support from the community in the wake of this tragic event is incredible. So many people are mobilizing to show support in a variety of ways and it’s very uplifting to witness it all. As well intentioned as these gatherings on the marathon course are, it’s still just too soon.

We all want swift justice here and the best way to do that is to give the hardworking law enforcement officials their space. Bringing a mass of people into Boston this weekend will be doing just the opposite of that and will most likely further stress an already over-stressed group of people.

The closer one gets to the epicenter of it all, the more caution and consideration that’s needed. There are plenty of other ways to show your support and I hope people will consider those other options, at least until some normalcy returns to Boston.

You can do something as simple as wearing marathon gear, there will be various fundraisers held all over, you can donate online, City Sports is organizing runs, even UMass football has gotten involved and invited runners to finish on their field during a special ceremony.

There’s also going to be a big fundraising running event hosted by the Western Mass Distance Project at Stanley Park in Westfield, MA this Sunday. Details for that will be passed along as they continue to develop, both here and on their own website.

There seems to be some sentiment out there that runs along the Boston course need to happen now to show that the marathon is not dead. I have a problem with that line of thinking. First of all, the marathon can’t be killed. Second of all, people are more motivated for it now than ever, which means it’s more alive than ever. The marathon is a special distance that requires a lot of respect, so the best way to show that the marathon isn’t dead is to respect the race: put your nose to the grindstone and get out there and make Boston 2014 your mission. By steering clear of Boston (specifically Back Bay) we’d be showing law enforcement some respect, while also still paying tribute to those affected.

Thank you for being active and showing your support, but please be considerate of all the elements involved.

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boston marathon black ribbon 4.15.13I saw a gentleman walking around this evening wearing an Avril Lavigne t-shirt. Normally that would be the worst thing I’d see on a given day but sadly that wasn’t the case today. The events of yesterday are weighing heavily on my mind and I can’t seem to clear my head. With my own eyes I saw Jason Ayr pull a Lazarus and rise from the ashes of a 103 degree fever to run a 2:27, but the magnitude of that accomplishment seems to escape me. I witnessed a nearly naked Eric Ashe (only some beads and a pair of running shorts keeping him from indecent exposure charges) jump out to run with his teammate Tim Ritchie, but I can’t seem to focus on the hilarity of the moment.


Ashe helps out Ritchie just after Cleveland Circle (courtesy of Mary Kate Champagne).

For hours I sat there yesterday afternoon and watched the screen, over and over again the horror of the explosion played out before our eyes. It was eerily reminiscent of 9/11. I lost a couple of friends that day, and I’ll never forget that phone call that I received that evening. It was the memory of that very phone call that haunted me yesterday afternoon and kept part of me waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak.

Since I became involved in Level Renner, my social network within the running community has expanded so much that I was on edge all day fearing that I’d receive some more bad news. As of now it looks like my family, friends and teammates are all okay and for that I feel truly blessed. At the same time my heart is heavy with sorrow for the losses of others.

Numb best describes my current state. Did I skip over rage, or could it be that I’ll get there once my overwhelmed mind processes it all? Unfortunately this act of terror seems to have trivialized the whole thing, at least at the moment.  But there is nothing trivial about a marathon. Even the best of preparations still may not be enough to get you through the entire 26.2 mile race. That’s a lot of road and your body may just decide ‘hey, it’s not my day’ at any point. We can’t overlook the fact that a lot of people accomplished some amazing things yesterday, some of which I saw personally, and at first I couldn’t help but feel that it’d be wrong to even talk about it.

I’ve run this race; I know what it takes and what it means. I know people who ran it yesterday, and I still haven’t brought myself to look up their times just yet. I spoke to Joe Navas on the phone for 16 minutes last night and didn’t ask him about his race once, although I sincerely care about how it went for him. I was stationed out near Cleveland Circle with some NBB, BAA and WMDP runners and got some good footage, and for a brief period I wondered if it would ever see the light of day.

The strength of the community quickly snapped me out of it. A simple post last night on Facebook and the responses that followed helped to bring me out of that funk. Runners are a close-knit community and something as heinous as this act was will only serve to further galvanize us:

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If the perpetrator(s) of this cowardly act thought that messing with a road race would deter us then they couldn’t be more wrong.  They obviously know nothing of the running community. It was as if they thought that they could strike at the heart of the race and stop us all. There is no singular heart of the race. Instead it is made up of the hundreds of thousands of hearts of those involved, be it runners past and present, volunteers and supporters of all kinds. We use races in a lot of cases to rally and overcome tragedy. The race will be back and be better than ever, with no shortage of people eager to run it. We are strong and our strength will come through over the days and weeks that will follow.

I pondered all of this and more, starting with my journey home. I was six miles away and wanted to be there with my wife. I felt bad that she had to walk home from work alone, but there wasn’t a way for me to get to her quickly. I finally decided to walk the distance. The T was up and running but if they were keeping people away from the area on the surface then riding under it didn’t seem too appealing. The thought of getting stuck on the train for a long time for whatever reason was bad enough to keep me from taking that ride. Traffic seemed bad enough to make taking a taxi a bad idea as well.

The questions kept coming to me: How? Why? Who? Without a point of reference, it’s harder to process. I don’t know how this would compare to something like the ’72 Munich or ’96 Atlanta Olympics, but that’s all I could think of in terms of athletic competition. The Boston Marathon might not be as big of a deal as the Olympics, or have the tradition of nations laying down their arms in the spirit of athletic competition, but it’s close. The event brings people from all nations, religions, and backgrounds together on the same course with the same mission.

It’s hard to not think about the ramifications of this. It makes me think that this could do to the major race experience what 9/11 did to the air travel experience. Along my walk, I came to an unexpected sight: a police blockade. There they were, at the Beacon St and Park Drive intersection, stopping all vehicle and foot traffic. It was a good mile and a half from the scene of the crime. That seems like a long way but when you think about the fact that it’s only a small fraction of the 26.2 mile marathon course then it’s not that big of an area. That’s also not even including all the acreage dedicated to pre- and post-race staging. How do you protect something that expansive?

That leads to even more questions to consider, such as how much more security will be needed? Is it possible to completely secure an area that big while still maintaining an open and free environment? As vulgar as it may be to consider finances right now, it makes me wonder if the extra security would create a spike in entry fees that would price a lot of people out of the race. All of these are questions to consider later.

For now, we need to focus on healing those that are hurt. We need to strike a balance, one that celebrates the triumphs of the day while showing the utmost respect for the tragic events that followed. Perhaps most importantly, we need to train for the 2014 Boston Marathon.

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