This past Monday, New England observed Patriots Day, which commemorates the start of the Revolutionary War but today, is best known for its signature sporting event — the Boston Marathon. First hosted in 1897 for a field of just 15 runners, it’s the world’s oldest, continuously run marathon — until COVID-19. Organizers postponed the marathon until the fall, but on Monday, it was top of mind locally, with our sentiments artfully expressed through a Boston Globe video (check it out on YouTube).
Instead of complaining about the marathon’s cancellation, people respected the decision and heeded advice to stay off the course on race day. To me it perhaps symbolizes where we are with this pandemic, which has greatly constrained our lives over the past six weeks. I firmly believe that we are optimists by nature and that we enjoy traditions because of the cumulative memories they represent. Maybe we’re moving past the fear and anxiety phase of COVID-19 and starting to gain confidence in getting to the other side. So understanding that our hometown tradition wasn’t really broken – just taking a twisted path – meant we could still smile when we saw pictures of the faded start and finish lines, and the Make Way for Ducklings and other iconic area statues dressed both for the race and for beating COVID.
Marathons have long been a metaphor for patience and resilience, and I think that works again here. Having run Boston in my younger, fitter days, I can still recall the training and race day experience pretty clearly. We probably haven’t made it to Heartbreak Hill yet, but it’s on the horizon. Keep your training shoes laced and be well!