by Ben Heller
Just as I was starting to wonder if I would have an article topic for this month, something magical happened. Well if by magical you mean really disappointing and scary, then yes we are on the same page. I am starting writing this on Thursday, March 12, and for the first time in recorded history the Boston Marathon is going to be postponed.
Just typing the phrase Boston is canceled sends a chill up my spine, especially since I have dedicated the last four months mercilessly training for what was supposed to be a redemption marathon on a beautiful crisp spring afternoon. I can run as hard and as fast as I want, but I can’t run form the truth. The truth is that things are different and on Patriots’ Day, there will be no Boston Marathon. Think about that, no 30,000 runners, no tradition, no mass of nervous runners putting everything on the line, no hundreds of thousands of spectators. The streets in Eastern Massachusetts will have an eerie silence on the third Monday in April. The race is rescheduled for the fall, but face it, it will be entirely different and foreign from the Boston we know and love.
This news comes just as the COVID-19 virus forced the cancellation of the first major local spring race, the Runnin’ of the Green. This appears to be the tip of the iceberg, as our everyday lives become altered in a surreal and strange manner. The spring races we know, look forward to, and compete in will be silenced this year by a microscopic organism that has landed a knock- out punch on our society. None of us have ever lived through a spring with no basketball, no hockey, and no baseball, but this is our new reality. Within a span of 24 hours almost all major sports in North America ceased operations, with a resumption date somewhere in the distant future or not at all.
We live in a very novel and chaotic time. I say that despite having that feeling almost every day the past four years, but this is different. No one really knows what course the pandemic will take, or what effect it will have on our spring season, summer season, and this really hurts, fall season. I wish I could be the one to tell you it will all be ok, but that simply may not be the case. Between the time when I submit this article for publication and the date you read my words, many things will change. One truth about these types of situations is that things change rapidly and unpredictably.
Maybe we will have some spring magic, and this will turn out to be much less severe than anticipated. Or you could be reading this article while facing a mass government ordered quarantine, using magazines for toilet tissue because supplies ran out. For all those times I laughed at those doomsday preppers with their underground bunkers, various survival supplies, and years’ worth of rations, it looks like they might have the last laugh this time. Why, right now, I would run 100 miles on bare feet on a hot desert road for a freshly made sandwich.
What can we do as runners during these turbulent times? Well I say if you can keep going, keep running, even if it means abstaining from group runs and tackling those miles alone. Staying out there and getting that exercise is one of the best things we can do to keep ourselves healthy, especially in times of strife. If we are forced into a house quarantine, then we can do pushups, sit-ups, and exercise videos, anything to keep the blood flowing and a shred of our sanity in tack.
As with all times of crisis, at some point this Coronavirus will be a distant memory. I distinctly remember the time after 9/11, perhaps the greatest time of crisis in my life. For a few days at that time it felt like normalcy would never return, but inevitably it did. We as human beings are quite adaptable, and we always seem to find a way through whatever obstacles come our way. That said, my fellow running enthusiasts, we may not have races, we may not have group runs, we may not even have access to the outside world, but let’s keep our hopes up. Spring is in the air, the virus cannot go on forever, and before we know it, we will be lacing up our running shoes again.