This series of columns, Sports Reflections, is intended to allow us to ‘reflect’ upon the meaning of sports in our lives. I have attempted in these columns to search for the deeper implications of sporting events and find inspiration or words to live by contained therein.
I must say I am at a loss to find much inspiration or meaning in the recent tragedy at the Boston Marathon. Tribune readers may have seen my recent news story about Paul Harris, local running enthusiast who survived the bombing after having completed the marathon.
One thing that struck me as I researched the story was how everyone I talked to remarked on the incongruity of such a tragedy striking at such usually joyful place—the finish line of a marathon.
In high school, Paul’s proclivity for distance running was nurtured by PHS distance coach Kathy Hitz. Hitz was one of the first people contacted by Harris assuring her he was fine.
“ I got a group text from him, letting a bunch of us know how he had done, and then he mentioned he was okay, that he was already done when he heard the explosions,” Hitz said.
A veteran of road races and marathons herself, Hitz mentioned that it just seems incomprehensible how a scene of camaraderie and accomplishment like the finish line of a marathon normally is could be turned into chaos by a senseless, terroristic act.
Paul’s mother Barb Harris was at home cleaning out the garage when she first heard from Paul. “When he told me he was ok, that he hadn’t been injured in the explosions, like any mother would, I became concerned that maybe there might be more explosions,” she said. Barb Harris was also struck by the disconnect of such a thing happening.
“To run a marathon is such an amazing feat in and of itself,” she remarked. “You think of it as being a happy time, you don’t think of it as being like a war zone.”
Paul Harris himself echoed the sentiments of his mother and former coach. “It was a horrible thing to have happen at such a joyous location,” he said.
Harris intends to continue to run in marathons, and would eventually like to run another one in Boston, although dental school may prevent him from being able to dedicate enough training to be able to qualify for Boston for a few years.
As for myself, I can’t figure out much of what to make of the situation. Aside from relief that Paul and his friends are ok, grief for those who weren’t so fortunate and anger toward those who did this, I can’t really describe how I feel, or find anything positive in the event. Maybe it’s still just too soon.
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