The Boston Marathon is one of the most inspiring running events of the year.This year I couldn’t watch the race live and I was really bummed to have missed it. As soon as I was free, I started watching all the highlights videos and reading all the media commentary. It’s not the runners’ speed that I’m inspired by – it’s their dedication and the effort and sacrifice you know they have put in to be able to line up at the start of probably the most prestigious marathon there is. Not only do they train their butt off for Boston, they also have to train for and nail a qualifying time at a marathon within 6 months prior to the race.
So many moments in the race this year stood out to me (by which I mean, had me in tears). They made me realize the most inspirational running moments are not always the triumphant finishes, or records being broken, or awards being won. They’re the moments when runners are defying the odds, representing something bigger than themselves, or just reminding us that for all the crappy things humans do that we’re bombarded with in the news, there’s an awful lot of good and love to share as well.
And it’s more than just Boston…here are a collection of some of the most inspirational running moments, guaranteed to make you tear up, be inspired, or grateful.
This year’s Boston Marathon was the 50th anniversary of the first time Kathrine Switzer ran the race…back when women were not permitted to enter. She signed up under her first initial, was nearly dragged from the course, and ended up changing history when she crossed the finish line. This year, she ran with her iconic bib number 261 that she wore in 1967 and the BAA retired her number after the race. Chills.
I recently watched the movie Patriots Day, based on the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013. It was tough to watch and I spent much of the first part of the movie just crying. Watching Meb Keflezighi cross the Boston Marathon finish line this year and run straight over to the family of Martin Richard, the 8 year old who was killed in the terrorist attack, had me crying again. Meb is just the epitome of grace and class as an athlete and as a human being.
Meb also apparently has a habit of encouraging fellow runners by running with them at the end of a race, like this lucky NYC marathoner, Mike Cassidy in 2013; or Hilary Dunne at the Boston Marathon in 2015.
And check out this video of veteran Earl Granville. He lost his leg while serving in Afghanistan in 2008 and turned to training and competing as a way of dealing with depression. He’s completed marathons before using a hand cycle, but this is the first one he ran, with his Achilles International guide Andi Piscopo, who had a little help from Granville over the finish line! 🙂
(Check out this post for more information on Achilles International and other fitness-based charitable organizations.)
At the Love Run Philadelphia Half Marathon in March 2017, two men stopped and circled back to help a woman who was obviously in distress as she approached the finish line. At the time this video was released, the female runner’s name was unknown – it was just a random act of kindness that went viral:
In a follow-up article on Runner’s World, the woman was identified as 21 year-old Haley Klinger, who started feeling light-headed a mile or so out from finishing but was determined to cross the line under 2 hours. And of course the runners who helped her, Bryan Crnkovic and Joseph McGinty, knew what the race clock was at and guessed she was trying for a sub-2 time. McGinty ended up missing a PR by 18 seconds at this race, but something tells me he’d do the same thing over again. 🙂
The running leg of the World Triathlon Series in Mexico in 2016 saw Jonathan Brownlee from Great Britain easily in the lead as he approached the final stretch of the race. His brother Alastair Brownlee, also racing, watched as his brother seemed to lose control of his legs and was obviously disoriented. Not only did he come to the aid of his brother to help him to the finish line, you have to watch the video to see what he did when they reached it:
That is just a beautiful moment.
Did you run/watch/spectate Boston this year? What was your favorite moment of the race? And what, or who inspires you when it comes to running?