Finish lines are places of hope, resilience

A special contribution to Reasons to Run
By Robert Trishman

Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia crosses the finish line to win the men’s division of the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston Monday, April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

I will never understand what drives anyone to cause terror, destruction, harm and death anywhere.

And what I really don’t understand is what would motivate someone to do so at a marathon finish line, as one or more people did at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, leaving three people dead and more than 100 injured.

Maybe the perpetrator(s) are not aware of what takes place in this setting. Having experienced one myself as a runner — along with other, shorter races — allow me to illustrate.

A finish line is a goal. It is a goal of time, of health, of pride and confidence. It is a goal that is never less than multiple months and sometimes many years and decades in the making. It is the result of intense training and pushing beyond limits.

A finish line is a place of resilience. It is a place where people celebrate regaining the vigor of their youth. It is where people show that yes, I have recovered from that nasty injury, and I’m back in form.

A finish line is a place of hope. By crossing it, many runners declare that they’ve escaped a rut, improved their health and discovered a newer, happier self they didn’t know existed.

A finish line is a place of urgency. Look, almost there! Kick, kick, KIIIIIIIIIICK!
A finish line is a place of defiance. This particular race took place in a region where defiance helped give birth to a nation. I’m sorry, you diagnosed me with a serious disease? You told me I may not be able to walk anymore? You’re saying I’m too old?


Above everything, a finish line is a place of support. The positive energy that comes from total strangers cheering you as you near the tape cannot be quantified. And once you cross it, the volunteers waiting on you hand and foot are legion. Bananas, Popsicles, sport drinks, chocolate milk (personal favorite), massages, stretching, medical staff for those in need.

Don’t forget family and friends, who probably drove a long distance and decided, for at least a day, to be as crazy as you are and rise early to cheer you on.
And dinner’s on them afterward.

Clearly, this troubled soul didn’t realize whom he was messing with when this particular target was chosen. The Boston Marathon is one of America’s best-known annual collections of goal-oriented, resilient, hopeful, urgently acting, defiant and supportive groups of people.

And the people on the scene channeled all of those attributes, helping people to safety, aiding the injured and looking out for their fellow man.

I mourn for those who were lost and their families. People will always look back at this event with varying degrees of sadness and fear.

But the masterminds of this atrocity did nothing to weaken the human spirit.
This person will not win, not when he attacks those who — in so many areas of their lives — know and do what it takes to win.

The human race will go on, and we have a lot of finish lines to cross.

Robert Trishman is a copy editor for the Deseret News and a former high school cross-country runner. Finish lines are among his favorite places in the world.
Twitter: @RobTmanJr

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