Editorial: The Boston Marathon means more than running

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Perhaps 100 or more flags splashed the cool blue April sky with reds, white, yellows, greens — the colors of the world, each representing the country of at least one runner making the Patriot’s Day trek from Hopkinton to Boston.

They snapped in a steady sea breeze, a head wind that the runners and wheelchair athletes faced from the starting line all the way into Boston

And as is tradition at the Boston Marathon, people cheered lustily for all, no matter their gender, the color of their skin or their ability.

From the elite runners swallowing ground up the Newton hills to those staggering and plodding up those same hills two hours later, yet sharing an equal determination with the world’s best, the crowd cheered them all, celebrating both the performance and the effort of all the runners in the Boston Marathon.

Two dull booms, echoing among the Boylston Street buildings, puffs of white smoke and cheers turned to screams transformed this year’s celebration of human will, talent and accomplishment into horror and tragedy.

But a worse tragedy would be to stop running the race completely. This is why the decision to continue the Boston Marathon is more than right. It is a far more important triumph than any elite runner or wheelchair athlete breaking the tape.

“I hope they continue the Boston Marathon,” said Drew Marc-Aurele, of Ipswich, who was 50 yards away from the first blast, waiting for his son, Jeffrey and two other extended family members to finish the race. “They absolutely should continue. We can’t bow down to threats like that.”

Ipswich’s Michael Jones, who had finished and was already on the Tobin Bridge when the blasts struck, eventually reached the same conclusion.

“I really hope people think long and hard before they say they won’t do it again,” said Jones. “That’s where I was last night. But I thought about it this morning and I thought I needed to do it again.

“They should have Boston again and I will absolutely run it again. I think it will change in terms of security. But if we back out of it now, we sort of let these guys win.”

Continuing the Boston Marathon is more than merely thumbing our noses at terrorism — no matter its stripe in this horror.

Despite ego. Despite huge sums of money some athletes earn. Despite performance-enhancing drug scandals. Athletics, like art, at its best, rises above a mere entertainment. It opens something inside us and lets us glimpse the power and possibility of human achievement, even as we see and cheer the physical struggle and talents needed to attain those achievements.

And that is what the crowds cheer at the Boston Marathon each year. The athletes age and retire. New personalities and talents take their places. The crowds return to celebrate the swift, the strong and the merely determined.

Let all those flags flap in the breeze each Patriot’s Day. Let us cheer ourselves hoarse. And we will all be uplifted and undaunted.

Ipswich Chronicle