Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Support of Volunteers: Reflecting on Boston

I've been struggling with trying to express how the Boston Marathon bombings affected me. Every time I've tried, it's seemed so trite and trivial - I wasn't there. My husband wasn't in the crowd. No one I knew was hurt or killed in the incident. 

But as part of the running community, I know many of us have had great difficulty in coming to terms with what happened on Monday. I think we can relate the experience to our own, having run so many races ourselves and having that familiarity of what it's like to be involved in a running event. I, for one, have watched the video footage, imagining what it would have been like to be running that final stretch, on extremely tired legs, and in anticipation of crossing the finish line. I've imagined seeing my husband on the sidelines, waving his arms and snapping photos. Then to imagine a bomb going off where he stood and seeing fellow runners being knocked over by the blast ... it's just too difficult to even think about. 

But I can imagine it. I have imagined it. And I cry every time.

Of course, there have been many inspiring stories that have emerged in the aftermath - stories of hope, courage, and the bravery of those to help others who are in need. As my husband says, "Sometimes the worst brings out the best in us." There were so many ordinary (extraordinary) people who offered assistance that day to people hurt, stranded, or in shock, but my mind immediately goes to the volunteers at Boston. These are people who had already given of themselves - their time, their efforts. Volunteers make running events tick; they are the ones who hand out the bibs, who check the bags, and who inspire the tired runners to go that extra bit further. There were stories about the volunteers at Boston who cleared the finish area after the bombs went off to help emergency vehicles get through, and of those who came back the next day, without hesitation and with no questions asked, to help reunite runners with their bags and belongings. 

I've always admired the volunteers who have been involved in the races I've run. They are a crucial element to every running event. I'd long considered volunteering at a running event and, since I'd planned to not run any races this spring, a few months ago I signed up to volunteer at the BMO Vancouver Marathon, which happens in 17 days. I was so excited when I chose my shifts; here was my chance! to give back to the running community which has done so much for me these past four years. 

When I'm helping out this year, I think it will be even more poignant. I'm looking forward to doing my part, being involved - and providing assistance to my fellow runners at a time when all of us could use a little extra support. 

This video is about volunteering at the BMO Vancouver Marathon. If you'd like to be involved, they are still looking for volunteers. Sign up today!

© BMO Vancouver Marathon

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