At possibly the most prestigious marathon in the country, tragedy struck today when someone or some group exploded two bombs at the finish. The victims and their families are in our prayers.
At long-distance races, runners will often ask a family member or friend to wait at the finish for them with their athletic bag holding their jackets and long pants, etc. Therefore it would not have been unusual to see bags on the ground and not necessarily attended. Some races allow runners to check their bags before the event starts and then transport them to the finish. What happened today is a good reason for other race organizers to reinstate this practice if they have discontinued it in the interest of saving money.
I've never run a marathon but have run several half-marathons and also ran the Broad Street and the Army Ten Milers a few times. We runners (and even though it's been years since I raced I still consider myself a runner) are a breed unto ourselves. There used to be a Nike ad that showed a runner blowing their nose into their bare hand with the caption: "Runners - Yeah, we're different". That about sums up your typical runner. Runners run in all kinds of weather and conditions and many are undaunted by ice, lightning and even bobcats and grizzly bears. I've known many people who gave up drug and alcohol addictions for the high of running.
It would not surprise me in the least if some of those runners who had the misfortune of approaching the end of the course as the bombs went off today went ahead and crossed the finish line after recovering from the initial shock. So much time and training goes into the effort to run a marathon that it's almost like a race horse with an injury - the drive to run doesn't just turn off. It would also not surprise me if some of those runners abandoned their goal of finishing to stop and help the injured. As driven as runners are, they also look out for one another and if a fellow race participant fell ill or got injured, another runner or two or three would always stop to help or render aid. It is a camaraderie like no other.
Again, we ask Almighty God to bring healing to those who were injured, mercy to those who died and comfort to those who mourn as a result of this brazen and cowardly act.