The overwhelming sentiment of this year’s Boston Marathon, the first running since the home-grown terrorist attack in 2013, was let’s get the anniversary over, let’s get back to Boston being Boston.
Not so fast, Hal Higdon might say. His terrific book, 4:09:43: Boston 2013 Through the Eyes of the Runners, does much more than take readers inside the experience of running Boston the year of the bombings. He recounts its rich history, the physical challenges of the course and the many legends who have contributed to making Boston the most storied marathon on the planet. But he makes this point most emphatically: the thousands of individual stories that played out in 2013 will be part the larger Boston story, forever.
Higdon shares tales of bravery, extreme acts of kindness between strangers and the thwarted ambition of runners turned back mere blocks from the finish line. Their frustration turned to survivor guilt then a determination to return, not with anger but to run with higher purpose, whether in memory of fans who were injured or killed, with greater zeal than ever to raise money for charity, to give back to the race that has inspired so many runners to reach personal bests or to love more, because that, they discovered, is the way to overcome hate.
Given the amazing potential of that legacy, we would do well to spend some time with the stories in 4:09:43 and not to rush back to Boston as usual.