That baked-in focus on diligence, endurance and strategy is one thing that may make distance runners capable of calmly overcoming obstacles like violence, according to several runners reached for this story. Amature marathon runners largely say the recent events in Boston will not keep them from running in the future.
Kieran O'Leary, who has run both the Boston and London marathons in the past, notes that he's now even more likely to apply for a Boston spot as a show of support, with little in the way of paranoia or changed behavior.
"The only [personal] impact would be whether or not I would encourage my wife or child to view at a busy spot on the route such as the finish area," according to O'Leary.
Runner John Keane agrees that the community is likely to bounce back.
"Runners are resilient," he wrote in a Friday email. Keane ran Boston in 2012 and has run Dublin several times.
"I think the participants have enough to occupy their minds apart from paranoia."
"As for the fans: Just go out and support the race. There are people who have been training for years and others who have collected thousands for charity who deserve the fans support in such a prestigious race."
"At this point," Keane states. "I would like to pass on my heartfelt condolences to the families and friends who lost loved ones in this heinous act and to the people of Boston."
Additional reporrting from Columbia, MD.
Runner Kieran O'Leary posted this note to social media shortly after the Boston Marathon. He shared it with The Baltimore Sun. It runs here without modification:
Today like so many other days I will run home from work wearing my Boston 2012 Finisher T-Shirt with pride. However, today my thoughts will be very different, and will be thousands of miles away back on that finish line on Boylston Street that we've all seen horrendous images of over the past 24 hours. Someone has tried to shift running (marathons in particular) from something that is life-affirming, a celebration of overcoming perceived limitations, into an opportunity for a sick demonstration of their twisted beliefs, whatever they might be.
They did this at the Boston Marathon, qualifying for which is the holy grail for many runners, and running for 26.2 miles through one massive street party is a truly magical experience. Reports are suggesting that an 8 year old boy was killed as he ran to hug his Dad after he completed that journey, leaving his Mother and Sister maimed on the pavement. A small piece of pavement which is the only point where family members can get a view of their runner crossing the finish line, and it is crammed full of them craning their necks for a glimpse through the crowd.
Marathons may never be the same again, but they will remain the complete antithesis of what happened yesterday. A sport where competitors help one another. A sport where everyone competes mainly against themselves, and most come out as winners. A sport where total strangers stand on the side of the road and shout support at someone they have never seen before and will never see again. A sport where an 8 year old boy stands on the pavement and hands you jellybeans to give you a sugar hit to help you avoid that infamous "wall". Yesterday he died on that pavement.