Yesterday, a nation watched as an American man won the Boston Marathon for the first time since 1983 and an American woman held the lead for 17 miles, finishing seventh. I stood 10 feet from the male winner, Meb Keflezighi, when he served as the official starter for the Tar Heel 10 Miler in Chapel Hill. I was a classmate of the top American female, Shalane Flanagan, as an undergrad at the University of North Carolina.
Meb’s race ended in joy, while Shalane’s ended in heartbreak; in the end, her very best wasn’t quite fast enough to win.
But as I reflected on these runners’ experiences and the bigger picture of yesterday’s race, the 118th edition of the world’s most prestigious marathon, I thought about how the sport of running embodies so much more than getting from one place to the next or attempting to cross the finish line first.
In Boston, it’s a symbol of the ties that bind a city and a nation in the face of a terrible crime, an unspeakable tragedy.
For me, it’s an enduring symbol of my sister’s great courage, even though it’s been nearly five years since she completed her last 5K and she can no longer walk without assistance.
For anyone who has ever run or dared to dream, it’s a symbol of what it means to believe.