Last month, I was thrilled to get the chance to run my first marathon race: the Boston Marathon. I trained for months to prepare -- even running through subzero temperatures in the cold Vermont winter weather. In order to participate in the race, runners need to meet strict qualifying times, raise a significant amount for charity, or be granted an invite by a running organization. Like my fellow runners, I worked hard to earn my spot in this marathon and a lot of people pitched in to help me along the way, too. I never could have imagined that I wouldn’t get a chance to finish.
I was less than a mile away from the finish line when I heard that a bombing had occurred, that the marathon was over, and I wouldn’t be able to complete the race. I will never forget the chaos and confusion as I, and many other runners, struggled to locate our friends and families with limited phone reception. Less than a week later, instead of the party I had planned to celebrate finishing the race with my friends in Vermont, I organized a fundraising 5K run-walk that raised over ten thousand dollars for the fund to support victims.
But I wasn’t alone. Approximately 5,700 Boston Marathoners had our dream cut short by the terrible acts of April 15th. We were not able to experience the exhilaration that only crossing the finish line can bring. The most exciting day of our lives turned out to be the scariest. We were lucky that we hadn't quite made it to the finish and therefore were safe from harm. However, we will forever carry emotional scars from those horrifying moments.
The Boston Athletic Association (BAA), the organization in charge of running the Marathon, is providing those of us who didn’t get a chance to finish the race with a finisher’s medallion and an estimated finishing time. We are certainly appreciative of these efforts, but we feel our journey is not complete. We worked hard to get to the finish line and greet our families with tears of joy. Now we cannot say we accomplished our goals. Instead we have to say we almost finished.
That’s why I’m asking the Boston Athletic Association, as well as the Cities of Boston and Newton and towns of Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, and Brookline, to grant the 5,700 of us automatic entry into the 2014 Boston Marathon. We are not asking for a free spot, simply a guaranteed entry. The leadership of the BAA has mentioned that they are considering their options on this issue, so let's send a unified message together.
We respectfully ask that a Wave Four be created so that we may run with our brothers and sisters in solidarity and healing. We want to be able to finish what we started. We want to do it with one another. We want to be able to say that we completed the Boston Marathon.