While the nation mourns a week of tragedy, it seems nearly insensitive to write a column about sports. The inspiration at least, is a little harder to come by. Surely when we heard of the bombs, there was a part of us that went to a place in our heads. A place that asked, “What if I had been there?” Oregonians certainly weren’t immune, with 351 runners in Boston. But the more I got to thinking, the more I realized that mourning Boston at a standstill wasn’t helping anyone. And in the last few days, across the country, it’s become apparent that the run must continue.
In just a few shorts days, after we saw smoke and victims carried from carnage, people have continued to lace up their running shoes. On Wednesday in Eugene, the streets were taken in a run for Boston. The Duck’s Track and Field team ran on Hayward, Eugene residents hit the trails, and up north in Portland, close to 1,000 people ran along the waterfront. The enthusiasm hasn’t slowed. People are vowing to do marathons or simply take a jog, all in honor of those who were injured and lost.
It’s hard not to think that this is the best way to heal. In general, running has always held some merit in improving mind, body, and even spirit. Running writer John Hanc once said, "I've learned that finishing a marathon isn't just an athletic achievement. It's a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible."
Perhaps that’s what hurt most among the Boston bombings. They struck at a time when athletes, some of the hardest working, humble people, were out to achieve no easy feat. As someone who often romanticizes sports, the timing was cruel in the sense that when you’re out for the run, you’re not out to shield yourself – you’re out to lose yourself. It’s freeing and pure and in the moment the bombs went off, all that dignity was taken away.
But that same dignity – the dignity of runners – is surely what will pull the nation from tragedy. President Obama said that the suspects chose the wrong town. Well, they also chose the wrong type of people. Runners don’t give up. They keep going. And now as the nation attempts to show support, heal, and find a way to cope with tragedy, keeping our chins up, lacing up our shoes, and maintaining that dignity is the best way to find closure.
No matter what, we will keep running. That’s what sports teach us. That’s what life teaches us. So I hope in the next few days, we continue to remember Boston and all the families that were affected. And while we do that, we keep running. We keep going for Boston. We keep writing sports columns and we keep going to school and work and we keep loving our families. And when go on a run, we don’t quit or feel unworthy but we run for Boston.
Samantha Saldivar is on Twitter. Follow her at @SammySaldivar