Marcos Breton

Marcos Breton

Marcos Breton: Amid marathon terror, a show of love

Published: Wednesday, Apr. 17, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Thursday, Apr. 18, 2013 - 7:54 pm

One of the great joys of achieving a renewed state of fitness at 50 is being able to run longer distances after years of obesity and ill health.

Running is not for everyone and there was a time very recently when I couldn't last two blocks, let alone 10 miles – but now I can and it makes me so happy.

Aside from fitness and fresh air, you feel a part of a larger community out on the streets and trails. It can seem a solitary pursuit, but it's not. You're connected, never alone.

The best part of any organized race is the finish line, when runners experience the support of both family and strangers who exhort them onward.

It always reminds me of that part in church where you turn to the person nearest you and extend your hand in peace, love and community.

My heart has ached like everyone else's since news broke of Monday's act of terrorism at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, the greatest distance race there is.

Boston is the world's oldest annual marathon and so exclusive you have to qualify to get in – a holy grail of running.

On my own humble runs, my mind has sometimes drifted to Boston, and I've wondered if I could ever do it.

People a lot faster and fitter than I am haven't been able to qualify, so it has remained a dream.

It still is, maybe even more so now because of what happened and because of the human inclination to stand up to terror.

In Boston's case, the location of the explosions – near the finish line – speaks to purely evil intentions.

The end of any race is where families and kids and grandmas and friends gather to support loved ones dogged enough to brave the course.

In marathons, after four hours have elapsed as they had in Boston when the bombs went off, the people crossing the finish line are those bighearted enough to run for charity.

Larry Saltzman, a Sacramento doctor running for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, was stopped a half mile from finishing Monday's race after the terrorist explosions.

Effusive, energetic and full of life on most days, Saltzman sounded somber on Tuesday when I reached him by phone.

"We kept hearing sirens," Saltzman said. "All we heard was sirens."

The runners wanted to keep going because it's what they're trained to do – finish the race.

"But we ran into a wall of people," Saltzman said. The area was locked down, cell service cut off.

Runners like Saltzman were forced to stand in the street, in the afternoon chill, after 25 1/2 miles of running.

Then the people of Boston – total strangers – brought them water to drink and plastic bags to wrap around their cold, cramping bodies.

Even in the face of terror, there was peace and love at the end of the race – a big part of why we run.

Call The Bee's Marcos Breton, (916) 321-1096. Back columns, www.sacbee.com/breton. Follow him on Twitter @marcosbreton.

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Read more articles by Marcos Breton



Marcos Breton, news columnist

Marcos Breton

Hello, my name is Marcos Breton and I'm the news columnist with The Sacramento Bee. What's a columnist supposed to do? I'm supposed to make you think, make you laugh, make you mad or make you see an issue in a different way. I'm supposed to connect the dots on issues, people and relationships that cause things to happen or prevent them from happening in our region. I also write a weekly baseball column during the baseball season. I am a voter in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Yes, I have voted for Barry Bonds - twice. I am a native of Northern California. I am the son of Mexican immigrants. I've been at The Bee for more than 20 years, and I love Sacramento.

Email: mbreton@sacbee.com
Phone: 916-321-1096
Twitter: @MarcosBreton
Facebook: facebook.com/marcosbretonmartinez

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