A nerdy formula with a simple meaning: “Two is less than, and not equal to, 450,000.”
In the case of the 2013 Boston marathon tragedy, the number 2 represents the pair of misguided, impotent fools who tried to make the event a symbol of something they thought was wrong in the USA and the world. (‘Impotent,’ is used intentionally, because despite what was apparently months of planning and preparation, and the ruination of their own lives and family, all those two really accomplished was to show just how little they could achieve and how much was wrong inside their own frustrated and cowardly minds.)
The 450,000 represents, in rough estimate, the number of positive energies present along the course that Monday, based on media statements that Boston (yeah, even mid-pack runners can pretend to a first-name basis with the Big Event) draws upwards of 400,000 spectators, plus knowing that in 2013 there were 26,000 scheduled runners, and allowing for the thousands of staff, volunteers (thank you, to every one of you) and media who were present.
Whenever I think back to that day, after taking time to remember the innocents who lost so much, I remind myself to focus on the astounding outpouring of support, encouragement and pure joy that went on for over five hours before the tragedy. For 26.2 miles it seemed there was barely a ten foot stretch on either side of the course without a spectator; for most of the route they were lined shoulder to shoulder – sometimes several deep – and all of them making a continuous joyful noise for family, friends and strangers alike. It truly felt, in the middle of that pack, like you were all running together, being cheered on by one enormous family, in pursuit of a goal you had each set by choice and worked for, out of a common human desire to strive and to achieve.
That positive energy – not the horror and grief – is the true meaning of Boston, even in 2013, and the running community will not allow any two individuals to take that away from the multitude who put so much of their better nature into that day.