By Liz McCoy
On Thursday, April 18 at about 9:15am I turned on the radio. The Interfaith Healing Service for the victims of Boston Marathon was airing, live. The speaker was discussing the differences between a crowd and a community.
A large number of people gathered together, typically in a disorganized or unruly way.
Verb: (of a number of people) Fill (a space) almost completely, leaving little or no room for movement.
A unified body of individuals
People with common interests living in a particular area
A body of persons of common interests scattered through a larger society
Although I have run for 30 years, give or take, I have never viewed my running buddies or myself as being part of a larger community. Even while working at the Salt Lake Running Company, sharing the joys of running with friends, family and strangers, I did not think of these encounters as community building blocks.
The weekend before the Boston Marathon Explosions, I saw a glimpse. I was in Delaware for a funeral. On Saturday morning I was surprised to find myself running through a bird sanctuary with my sister, my cousin and a young, hip priest. The topic of conversation was, of course, running. Although we live in four distinct geographical areas and lead unique lives, the commonalities of our running experiences amazed me. I started to see how these stories created a common bond regardless of how far, how fast, where or why we run.
The following Monday, the tragedy in Boston began to unfold. The media started calling SLRCO. The TV camera’s started to arrive. We watched video footage of the response from the sales floor. As the week progressed we heard story after story describing the response of those at, crossing or headed to the finish line. At first look one might be tempted to label the throngs of people at the finish of this Boston Marathon, or all marathons, a Crowd.
Not me. Not anymore.
The Running Community has responded with a grace, love, kindness and generosity not found in Crowds but always found in a Community.
Here in Salt Lake, we had fun at a Scavenger Run on Thursday, supported the Salt Lake City Marathon by running and volunteering on Saturday and on Monday, one week after the tragedy, we participated in a Run for Boston.
Monday night as I stood by the entrance to the Salt Lake Running Company, I looked over the heads of runners and watched the American Flag blow in front of the snow covered Wasatch Mountains. I listened to our very own Lisa Menninger sing the National Anthem and I knew the 1,000 plus runners assembled in the parking lot were definitely not a crowd, but a Community. A Community to be proud of, a Community that raised over $20,000 for onefundboston.org, A Community that keeps on running …
You can still purchase your “Runners For Boston” t-shirt at any of our three locations. They are $20 and every cent goes to the onefundboston.org to help the victims of the Boston marathon bombings. Get them before they are gone and help us write a huge check to the fund.