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Mike Benge Wednesday, 17 April 2013 10:00 TWEET COMMENTS 3

The Runners' Web - Page 4

I called Mass General Hospital to see if they needed help or blood, but they had plenty of both. I went online to offer my hotel room to any displaced runner, only to find a list of thousands of Bostonians opening up their houses. Boston was telling me, "We got this, bro ... we got this. " Of course they do. This is Boston, one of the greatest communities in the world. Nobody takes care of their own like Bostonians

I looked at my cell phone—53 texts, 25 Facebook messages, 30 tweets and 18 phone calls. It was family, friends...it was you guys. Yes, I was OK. Yes, I had been at the finish 30 minutes before [the explosions], but my need for beer may have saved my life. In fact, let's have a few more beers. I opened up a tab and invited everyone to raise a glass to the families of the dead and injured, and to celebrate being alive. But in classic Boston form, the staff of the Beantown Pub just kept bringing free drinks.

As I got back to my hotel, another runner told me what it was like to be 500 yards away from the finish and told to stop (around 6700 runners were unable to finish). It was his first Boston, and like many who were coming in around the 4:09 mark when the bomb hit, he was running for a charity. I offered him my finisher medal, and he just smiled and said, "You're the fifth person to do that in the last hour ... no worries, mate, the BAA will take of us. " His smile made me smile, and we hugged. Then he saw my watch and said "2:44? That's outstanding! Tell me about your race."

And just like that, the healing began.

My senses came back quickly. I felt denial, and asked myself, "Why?" a few hundred times. I got angry, and blasted off a "#GFY terrorists" tweet (that's the Go F*** Yourself hashtag). I felt helplessness, realizing what an easy target the Boston Marathon is and it was likely just a matter of time before some of that small sliver of crazy in all humankind would see this easy target. Munich Olympics, Atlanta Games ...the pinnacle of sport will forever be in the crosshairs of attention-seeking zealots with a few loose screws. I FaceTime'd with my wife and kids and turned into a sobbing mess as soon as it ended. This was good. This was healing. Somewhere in the whirlwind of emotion I fell asleep, and woke up still fully dressed with a new appreciation for life. That day is done. This day is ours. We all move on, stronger than before and gracious to be alive. Heroes abound. We will remember this day forever.

I am sad for the victims of this terrible tragedy. I am proud of Boston for their incredible response and support, and to the B.A.A., B.P.D and local hospitals for being so prepared they undoubtedly saved lives. But most of all, I am happy for today. Happy to the point of tears that I get live and be healthy, surrounded by caring friends and family. The world feels brighter today, the sounds and colors more vibrant. I will not take it for granted. This day is a gift.

Give your kids an extra hug, raise your glasses, tell everyone close to you that you love them. It might be a PR day, it might be your last, but it's your day. Cherish the gift.

 

MIKE BURNSTEIN, 23, of Brookline, Massachusetts, is the founder of Janji Running Apparel, and a longtime runner who recently discovered trail running.

This year’s Boston Marathon was a major weekend for me, and somehow everything had come together. First, the race itself. I grew up watching Boston every year, and it had always been my dream to compete in my hometown in front of my friends and families. Monday's race did not disappoint. My training was solid coming in, the weather was perfect and the fans were absolutely mind-blowing. Crossing the finish line in 2:28, I had accomplished my goal and then some, running a 20-minute PR.

On top of the race, Janji was hosting a pop-up store two blocks from the finish line on Newbury Street. It had taken months for me to plan and execute. Despite a shoestring budget and limited manpower, the store was a huge success—packed with customers all day who were excited to learn more about Janji and our mission to help end the global food and water crisis.

After the race I hobbled back to the store, drank a beer and soaked in the runner's high. It was an amazing couple hours. Then we heard the bombs go off. Never before have I experienced such a drastic change in emotion. From top of the world, to confusion, to terror and eventually to grief. We packed the store as quickly as we could and evacuated.

 



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