Life Lessons from the 2015 Boston Marathon Runners
This year was the 119th marathon, but it was my first time ever attending the race. I couldn’t believe the amount of people who came to support the contestants, or that any one was willing to run 26.2 miles in the icy and windy conditions of that day.
Completing any marathon is an amazing athletic feat, but anyone who attends the Boston Marathon can feel the especially tangible strength, resilience, and sense of comradery that is particular to this event. According to the Boston Marathon website, nearly one million spectators come to cheer on the runners, rain or shine.
I was in Hopkinton, right at the starting line, where I watched 27,165 contestants take off. There were so many different types of people: old, young, vision-impaired, wheelchair bound, elite, and beginner.
I knew that every single runner had a story, a reason for being there, and a lesson to share with the rest of us.
Below, meet a few runners who participated in the 2015 Boston Marathon:
The Runner with One Leg:
Meet Rebekah Gregory, one of the many survivors of the Boston Marathon Bombing incident in 2013. For the past two years, she dealt with 17 surgeries on one leg, and decided to amputate it last November. Despite the seemingly impossible obstacle of using a prosthetic, Rebekah learned how to walk and then run. Doctors cleared her for running the last few miles of the race, and when she crossed the finish line, she fell to her knees, overcome with emotion. In an interview with ESPN, she said “I took my life back today.”
Rebekah’s life is now an example of how to deal with suffering and work toward healing. Some of you may remember the letter written by Rebekah to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, explaining that she is no longer afraid of him.
On Marathon Monday, when Rebekah took the final step over the finish line, she had crossed one more obstacle. Later in her ESPN interview, Rebekah said, “ I want people to know that there’s life after bad things that happen to you.”
The Runner Who Had Never Run a Marathon:
Meet Alicia Dupras, a 24 year old who completed her first marathon ever, crossing the finish line with a time of 4:18:20. Dupras had completed various races, including one half-marathon, before she signed up for Boston 2015. Shortly after registering for the race, she developed peroneal tendinitis and cuboid syndrome, both conditions that affected her feet. Instead of focusing on the negative, she worked through the training and listened to the reassurance of others, like her father, who encouraged her to “run strong”.
When asked about what helped her through the difficult race, she said, “I fell in love with the crowds, my family and friends along the course, and the inspiration of the other runners who were pushing through with obstacles like blindness and muscular dystrophy.”
Often, when we are faced with a problem in our everyday lives, we forget to look around us and embrace the encouragements of our friends, family, and anyone else who is there for us.
Dupras said that her time record suffered because she stopped to hug her many supporters on the sidelines, but she “wouldn’t change a thing.”
The Runner in Last Place:
Meet Maickel Melamed, a man who finished the marathon after 20 hours, crossing the finish line around 4am on Tuesday morning. Born with the ambilical cord around his neck, Melamed has dealt with a rare, lifelong muscular condition that makes walking or any physical movement difficult.
Many of us have the idea that we “can’t” do something, but Melamed’s example really proves that limitations are something we create in our own minds.
At a ceremony in City Hall Melamed said, “I run to send a message, to raise the bar of expectation for your own self.”
About the Author: Norah Kearney
I am currently a junior at Webster University of St. Louis, Missouri. I’m working on my BA in English with a focus on creative writing. I plan to use my degree for writing, editing, teaching, or a bit of all three.
Read more from and about the author: Norah’s WiLab Profile