by Tal Carmel July 12, 2018
What is it about BOSTON that makes it so special and cherished to those living here? Why is there such an immense pride in the hearts of Bostonians? What makes it’s people truly “BOSTON STRONG?”
Is it the fact that we have such a deep history embedded into the schoolbooks worldwide? Are we just blessed and incredibly lucky with our athletes and sports teams? Or is it the fact that we happily sing about drinking and loving our ‘dirty water’ that makes our hopeless optimism completely contagious and somewhat charming to those outside of New England?
This is home to perhaps the most fearlessly patriotic, rough and tumble crowd with a loyalty to all things sacred to our city. From the historical charm and grace, to our beloved sports teams, to the sweetest tale of “Make Way For Ducklings.” We hold all things “BOSTON” near and dear to our hearts. Our forefathers were no strangers to standing up for freedoms and liberties as they masterfully threw a raging TEA PARTY! If we can have a ‘wicked’ good time dumping tea into the ocean in the name of a rebellion, I think it’s important to note that one should never mess with BOSTON.
I’d like to think our harsh “R’s” must hypnotize the world like a sweet drunken Irish lullaby, making us as mysterious and adored as a unicorn. Speaking of unicorns, I find it hardly ironic that the symbol for OUR MARATHON, the BOSTON MARATHON, is none other than this mythical creature. Now to people outside of New England with no interest in running, the Boston Marathon must seem to be just another race; a ridiculously long run that questionably insane individuals run as a form of self punishment. For all of BOSTON; however, we run this race regardless of having a bib number or actual participation. We all run this race with our hearts. We line the 26.2 miles of road from Hopkinton, Mass. to the finish line on Boyleston Street, in Copley Square. We invented a holiday and appropriately named it “Patriot’s Day” to close down much of our city and allow for a celebration. The 30-plus-thousand runners from around the world would agree, the energy from the crowds and the people of Boston are what make this race the most special marathon in the entire world.
What many people likely don’t know is that you simply cannot just sign up to run the Boston Marathon. If you crush your Weekend Warrior 5K and have a few too many post-race celebratory beers, your poor judgement and false sense of athletic prowess will not grant you entry into our marathon. Being crazy enough to run a marathon simply isn’t enough. You have to QUALIFY! That’s right, qualify. Meaning you need to run another sanctioned marathon at a set speed, based upon your age bracket, to even be considered to register to run in BOSTON! And in case you were wondering, it’s wicked hard to qualify and you need to run wicked fast. Our marathon is now so competitive that simply running a BQ time is also no longer enough. Now only the fastest are accepted, leaving many runner’s dreams to die, after years and years of chasing that Boston Qualifying time only to come up short.
While we hold our athletes to the highest of standards, we also have an extreme desire to give back to our community. For this reason, the ONLY other way to run the BOSTON MARATHON is to become a member of one of the specific charity teams and personally pledge a minimum of $7,500 along with your first born child. You willingly give your credit card number to the charity team upon acceptance and if you don’t fund-raise your minimum in time for race day, you will be donating a kidney to foot the rest of the bill yourself. All kidding aside, we take our donating just as seriously as we take our sports teams. You might think this all sounds crazy and that someone must be on the brink of insanity to voluntarily not only run 26.2 miles, but to also raise/pay $7,500 to do so. Quite the contrary. Getting a bib number to run the BOSTON MARATHON is sometimes a once in a lifetime opportunity, it’s a privilege, and ever since the tragic events of 2013, it’s a bittersweet honor.
Now, I’ve never run the Boston Marathon and I can almost promise you with great certainty that I would never be able to run a qualifying time. I have run a few half marathons in my day with the most recent being 2 weeks prior to completely rupturing my ACL in a lacrosse game. This washed up college athlete now sticks to nothing more than 5K's and fun runs, if there is such a thing. While I no longer consider myself a runner, the marathon is still so very special to me. I have volunteered for many years in the medical tent at the finish line. I’ve seen the elite runners skip by me fresh as daisies and have treated some of the most severe hamstring and calf cramps imaginable in individuals with the most blood curdling screams to prove their anguish.
I wasn’t able to take the day off from work to volunteer in 2013 as I had recently switched jobs. This was so disappointing as I’d always LOVED being an integral part of the marathon! I often wonder if my many angels looking over me had a divine intervention so I wouldn’t be put in harms way, nor have to experience and witness that trauma in person. I’m thankful for this; yet, I cannot help but also feel an immense sense of guilt for not being there to help. Like all the other years, I should have been RIGHT THERE at the finish line. I would have been RIGHT THERE.
What took place on April 15th 2013 here in Boston was nothing short of horrific, terrifying, and undeniably tragic. While it most certainly has forever changed our marathon, we never let it change us as Bostonians. When faced with fear and danger as the events continued to unfold during one of the scariest weeks of my life, I saw a broken hearted city band together with more unity, love, and hope than our nation had seen since September 11th 2001. Here in Boston, we also chose not to refer to the cowards that committed this crime by their names; we never wanted to give them the sick satisfaction of being “known or famous” for their malicious deeds. Instead we called them Suspect #1 and Suspect #2.
These two scared little boys thought they could get away with their disturbing science experiment, but they failed to realize; you simply don’t mess with BOSTON. They clearly underestimated the power that an entire city of angry Irish and Italian-Americans would have and the fury that would fuel our fire to band together in the largest demonstration of love and unity. They thought they would break our spirit, but instead they made us a new kind of strong, BOSTON STRONG.
In the days following the bombing, we executed the most impressive lockdown throughout the entire city of Boston and the surrounding communities, which allowed for the successful MANHUNT that ensued. Suspect #2 essentially ran over and killed his brother Suspect #1, and he later took shelter in a boat that was still winterized in a homeowner’s yard. We killed the boat and kept Suspect #2 just alive enough to take into custody. I’d like to think he deeply regretted messing with Boston as he lost his game of hide-and-seek.
That boat would never float again. But we in Boston take care of one other; we win big and we donate big. More than enough money was raised to buy the homeowner that caught Suspect #2 a new boat. After all, it was the wicked right thing to do!
Out of all this heartache, our city chose to fight hate with love. This tragedy didn’t weaken us, it only made us Boston Strong-er. We helped everyone we could, we hugged strangers, we prayed together among all the varying faiths, and we also, most importantly, vowed to run again.
Days after the bombing, the most beautiful display of patriotism was witnessed, as the crowd at the Boston Bruins game completely took over the singing of the National Anthem. Chills like that will never be recreated. Big Papi gave us a pep talk that was heard around the world, and later led us to another World Series victory. We ran the marathon again, and again, and again, and again. We didn’t break. We only became stronger.
Today our city will celebrate another Marathon Monday and we take this job very seriously. We wish nothing but a wonderful race to all of you running today. We pray for you, we will be cheering for you and we are running this race with you in our hearts. Welcome to BOSTON, and congratulations on becoming BOSTON STRONG.
With love, honor and deepest respect,
Dr. MegIf you'd like to read on how FRÉ ambassador Annie Miller defeated her body image issues click HERE.
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