• He's been called the Pied Piper of the Second Running Boom. Once an overweight couch potato with a glut of bad habits, including smoking and drinking, at the age of 43 Bingham looked mid-life in the face—and started running.

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The Morning After

boston_marathon_logo_2013This morning there are things that we know. Things that we don’t know. There are images that we will remember and images that we can’t forget. There are stories of tragedy, stories of courage.

What I still can’t get used to hearing is “the bombing at the Boston Marathon.” I can’t make this make sense. The words just don’t go together.

What I hear most often this morning is “Why?” Why would anyone do this? Why would anyone want to kill and maim innocent wives, husbands, children, friends, and family? We ask this as if there was an answer that would make sense. We ask as though there was an answer that we could understand. There isn’t. There isn’t an answer.

There was a popular ad campaign that said something like: “Runners. Yeah. We’re different”. We’re different. We’re not like everyone else. We do things differently, experience things differently. We are NOT a part of the culture at large. We are runners. We are different.

What we learned from the New York City Marathon is that runners are not immune to the power of the universe. Hurricanes don’t care how long you’ve trained. They don’t care that running a marathon is a life-list dream. They don’t care that you are a runner.

Yesterday we learned that we, elite runners, charity runners, young, old, male, female, runners are not protected from the dangers, the horrors, and the hatred that are in the world. We aren’t. If we thought we were yesterday morning, THIS morning we know we’re not.

But, as runners and as individuals, it’s not what happens to us that matters. It’s how we react to what happens. What matters is if we allow our life experiences – good or bad – to define us or merely describe us. What we are left with when the smoke clears and the media goes off to the next horrible event is a decision. What do we do now?

I’m going to Nashville. I will stand at the finish line as I have at hundreds of marathons and greet the finishers. I will look into the faces of thousands of people and share their emotions. When they look back they may notice just a small bit of sadness in my eyes.

The sadness is from the knowledge that we – all of us who ever have pinned on a race number – are now and forever a part of the narrative of terror.

John

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11 Responses

  1. John…my training for Boston 2014 starts today!!! let’s reunite all fellow Penguins and do this!!!

  2. sad but true John. thank you.

  3. I had a thought when a news talking head asked someone if there would be a Boston Marathon again (he said yes, by the way, it has a very long history), that my answer was, “Of course there will be. And you can count on about a thousand runner volunteers with cell phones and walkie-talkies to police the route next time. Because that’s how runners are. They’re do-ers, not quitters.”

  4. [...] runners, our tribe and feeling undone. From one of my favorite runners, John Bingham. Runners are different. My husband and I are registered to run the OC Marathon in 3 weeks. We haven’t trained as much [...]

  5. John we met once at an Expo for the 500 Festival Mini. I will never forget it, you are hero for many of us, Give some of the runners in Nashville a fist pump for me! We are all bound together through the trials of the miles! I will continue to run and I will remember!

  6. My family and I will see you in Nashville on the 27th, John. My kids, however, will be waiting for us at their cousin’s house. I don’t know how long it will be before they wait for me at a finish line again. Sadder world today; God bless the victims of the bombing.

  7. Runners ARE different. We are a community, whether we run a 4-minute mile at the front of the pack or a 14-minute mile toward the back. Many of us are wearing race shirts today; I will run today and sign up for my next race. It’s what we do; we run, individually and together.

  8. Thank you for well chosen words with echoes of wisdom, determination, solidarity, support and love.

  9. John,Thank you for this article,we runners will go on,but we are changed forever.

  10. Beautifully phrased.

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