- Ada, Oklahoma

April 22, 2013

Boston bomber won't stop runners

Lone Beasley Publisher
The Ada News

Ada —

Editor's Note: Loné Beasley's column was written the day after the bombing.

When news broke of the Boston City Marathon bombing, family and friends called to make sure my son, who is stationed in the Air Force there, was OK. He was, and is. The calls are greatly appreciated.  

Listening to the coverage as the story broke made it clear not everyone in the media is well-versed in what the Boston Marathon is all about. It’s called a prestigious race for a couple of reasons. One, it started in 1897 and is considered the world’s oldest annual marathon.

But more important, one doesn’t enter it on a whim. A goal for many first-time marathoners is just to finish one. Boston doesn’t allow first-time marathoners. You have to qualify by running a previous marathon. Not only that, but you have to finish the previous race in a specified length of time, depending on your age and sex.

To put it mildly, it isn’t easy. In fact, I completed three marathons in my younger days but would never boast of running them, only in surviving them. To qualify for Boston would be a whole ‘nother level. 

The cutoff for a man my age is three hours and 55 minutes. In other words, in order to qualify to show up at the starting line for Boston the third Monday of April next year, I would have to average eight minutes and 58 seconds for each of the grueling 26.2 miles that make up a prior marathon. 

One of the obvious realities of last week’s bombing was that whoever planned it didn’t target the super elite runners who blazed over the distance by averaging a blistering five minutes a mile to finish about the two hour and 15 minute mark. He aimed for the comparative slowpokes like me which, of course, was a much larger group of people.

One television commentator seemed amazed that, despite the blast, runners kept charging toward the finish line. This reporter knows nothing of the lonely countless hours runners invest in getting to the point they cannot only finish that great distance, but qualify for the holy grail of marathon races. 

He knows nothing of the missed sleep, the sore muscles, and the weather-beaten bodies that accrue from such an arduous undertaking. Of course these runners continued to the finish line. They had already invested four hours in getting there and were within an eyelash of realizing their dream. There was no way they were going to quit because some lunatic detonated a bomb.

Nor will he sway many others from doing it again next year. Marathoning is its own form of lunacy, and they will not be intimidated. 

In fact, until last week, qualifying for Boston has never really piqued my interest. It is doubtful I could do it, but a fire has been lit to try. I would love to be one of those crossing Boston’s finish line next year, bomber be hanged. 

And here’s hoping he is ... hanged, that is.