To put this in perspective, I grew up in the South of England at the height of the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland, and this coincided with the mainland bombing campaign. I remember numerous occasions being stuck on a tube train for a bomb scare, or having to decamp to a pub to await the reopening of Nottingham station whilst visiting on business. I even passed through South Quay DLR station an hour or two before the bomb went off with the tragic loss of life that ensued. "Penfold", a colleague, even regaled us with a humerous tale of being blown back into the pub by the Bishopsgate bomb, so he had no option but to continue to drink. A likely story.
Whatever you thought of the rights and wrongs of the Irish question, the IRA dramatically increased publicity for their cause through the use of the bomb. However, even whilst I did not understand it at the time, they targeted maximum disruption to normal way of life, with minimum loss of life (although this changed with the Real IRA a little later on). This served two purposes - firstly the attacks were all about terror, and even a coded warning, with little or no substance behind it, caused maximum interruption to the ability of the country to function, because of the terror - or fear, that a bomb would go off. The second was of course to not turn people too far off their cause, in order that subsequent reengagement could occur - this has of course proven to be the case with former members of the IRA being totally rehabilitated within the establishment. Make no mistake, I am not excusing their actions in any way, and clearly people were injured and killed to further their cause, which is totally inexcusable, but rightly or wrongly their cause was kept in the public consciousness - right at the forefront of it - on a daily basis. One thing that was clear, though, was that life went on regardless. I just waited in the pub un
Targeting the finish line of the Boston Marathon, with no warning, is of course shocking, sickening, saddening, and all those other epithets that trip off the tongue so easily. However, what is the purpose of it? To my knowledge, at the current juncture, there has been no claim or political statement, however feeble and pathetic, to come out of this at all. There was no targeting of politicians, or Government buildings, or even an attack on the financial or capitalist structure of today's society, much like the anti G20 riots, or May Day "parades" in the UK.
To take this one step further, why do we run? I have blogged on this in the past. The primary motive for me was to shift a bit of weight and raise money for charity. Now it is more of a hobby or obssession, and to be honest, I am ok at it, and it gives me higher self esteem as a result. Because of that I am a nicer person to live with and be around, and I am healthier. I have converted my friends, and made new friends, so it is a social activity as well. i like to think of it as a sort of family. I have friends that I have made through a shared interest on the blogosphere - someone introduced me to someone else, and my MdS was enriched as a result. If I had to stop running, my life would be far poorer. I do not think that this is very different if you ask any runner. I have now run multiple marathons, but the feeling I get when I see someone waddle over the line for their first finish is almost the same as I get when I finish my own marathons. For that reason runners are a family. I ran this morning. I did not feel like it, but I did - I have an Ultra on 28th April and then the Western States in June, and this week is a key week. I ran just over 20km of hill sprints on virtually no sleep. It was not pretty and in terms of my speed, it most certainly did not break any records. However, I was fortunate to see 3 others running. We acknowledged each other with a smile and a wave. I do not know if they were locals, professionals, or maybe just trying to shift Easter Eggs' effects from the last couple of weeks. it did not matter - we were united for our love of sport, the outdoors, and running, and that is all that mattered.
Runners also have families, and these are often there in support of the runner's achievements - my kids love coming to watch my races, much to the disappointment of Mrs R whom I am pretty sure would rather do anything else, although she is finally coming round (after 10 years!), and she keeps suggesting exotic marathons for me to do, presumably so that we can combine it with a family holiday. Fine by me! Strangely she had actually mooted I try for Boston, but alas I did not qualify this year, and the way my marathon times are going I suspect it'll be a few more years yet!
I am therefore struggling to find any reason, however feeble or twisted, where targeting a group of runners, is even remotely justifiable, and I find the whole incident even sadder as a result. Not only were runners targeted, where their only motives were likely encompassed by the charity / health / challenge / fun / camaraderie aspects of running a marathon, but the bombs seem to have deliberately been placed to target the families, and children, of runners. The height and placing of the bombs demonstrates that unequivocally.
My heart goes out to those that were caught up in it - I am very fortunate that the people I know - friends and blog buddies, all seem to have escaped physical harm. However, many people did not, and I feel for them, like I would do if it was my own family. I can make no sense of what happened in Boston at 3,22pm on 15th April 2013. None whatsoever. The only sense I can make of it is I am more determined than ever to continue running marathons.