Obviously a terrible tragedy yesterday in Boston. It is all the more sinister because of what the finish line of a Marathon typically represents: a supportive, celebratory place of individual achievement.

I have finished two Marathons in my life, the 2004 Richmond and 2005 Marine Corps races. For me, these races were culminations of my losing about 60 pounds that I gained during graduate school (a decidedly unhealthy time for me in many ways) and the birth of my kids (my wife lost weight after childbirth, I just kept going!). One of the most beautiful moments of my life was making the left turn at around the 26 mile mark of the Richmond Marathon and seeing the finish line: I knew that I would finish. I began to weep as people shouted Go Don Go, you did it! (I had my name printed on my race bib) and the crowd roared, even for someone like me who finished in the 4 hour 40 something minute time range.

That is the point of the finish line at a Marathon. Long after the race winner has had a meal and a massage, normal people do extraordinary things, cheered on sometimes by family, but always by loving, supportive strangers. The finish line of a Marathon is quite an experience, and one that cannot be ceded to the acts of yesterday.

cross posted at freeforall

Author: Don Taylor

Don Taylor is an Associate Professor of Public Policy at Duke University, where his teaching and research focuses on health policy, with a focus on Medicare generally, and on hospice and palliative care, specifically. He increasingly works at the intersection of health policy and the federal budget. Past research topics have included health workforce and the economics of smoking. He began blogging in June 2009 and wrote columns on health reform for the Raleigh, (N.C.) News and Observer. He blogged at The Incidental Economist from March 2011 to March 2012. He is the author of a book, Balancing the Budget is a Progressive Priority that will be published by Springer in May 2012.

3 thoughts on “Marathon”

  1. I fairly regularly volunteer for the Houston Marathon. A few years I rode in the lead police car so saw all the people standing along the route ready to cheer on the runners. There are also bands setup along the route playing music. At I-610 and Woodway the belly dancers make their appearance. The Houston Marathon is a linear festival.

  2. The marathon is just about the least tainted and most admirable form of sporting endeavour, at both the élite and ordinary-joe-or-jane levels. It’s impossible to empathise with the thought processes of somebody who would kill and maim those involved. The nexr big marathon is in London: the runners will carry a double burden, of the race and defying the fear that the Boston bomber or bombers intended to spread. They will be up to it, like Pheidippides in the legend.

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