The Marathon

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I spend a lot of time training CFP® professionals on ethics. I was on my way to Minneapolis to deliver a workshop to an audience of advisers when the bombs went off. Ethics is certainly about knowing the diffference between right and wrong so let me offer some thoughts on what happened in my hometown.

The actions of the coward or cowards who planned this attack are wrong in any civilized society. Killing and maiming innocent spectators is indefensible. Yet, the bomber(s) reached the deluded conclusion that setting off explosives was the right thing to do.  I am at a loss for how that is possible - whether it be at the Marathon or the London Tube, a train in Madrid or an Israeli marketplace. What does this say about our world when such things can be rationalized by zealots regardless of their political or religious beliefs.

What is easier for me to understand are the actions that we all accept as right. And the Marathon - before and after the blast  - demonstrates a lot of what is right about my city.  Our race is not about celebrity or money. Sure, there are elite racers and there are those in a small community of distance runners who might recognize their names, but mostly this is about the runners who scrawl their names and tape them to their jerseys. About Moms and Dads who train throughout a cold, dark winter to prepare for the challenges of this type of extreme endurance. It is about parents pushing their disabled kids in wheelchairs and soldiers and firefighters covering the course in full gear.  There are a few hundred professionals and 27,000 amateurs running from Hopkington to Copley Square. It is all about what any of us can do if we set a goal and challenge ourselves to persevere.

Joining these dedicated amateurs are hundreds of thousands of my fellow Bostonians lining the entire 26 miles of the course to give support in whatever way they can: a shout of encouragement, a round of applause, bells and whistles and silent salutes.  We cheer everyone - the fast and the slow, strangers and friends, family members and out-of-towners.  We keep cheering long after the elites have showered and received their laurel wreathes. The Marathon inspires people to come together to share their strength and offer their support for tackling this difficult test. It is about the best of what we can do and the best that we can be.

After the explosions, our support continues. My city is filled with stories of samaritans helping the wounded and heroes running toward the destruction to help rescue victims. We talk about rides offered to displaced runners who cannnot reach their families. Out-of-town runners unable to get into their hotels because of heightened security being housed by complete strangers. We grieve for the families of the victims and we all know someone who was there. 

And, we know that the race will run again next year. There will be a Marathon and we will want it to be the biggest "evah". We will line the streets and cheer. We will make noise and shout our encouragement to runners from near and far. We are from Boston and we are strong. We waited eight decades for the Sox to win. We know what it means to come back every year to try and try and try. It will take more than a coward with a backpack full of nails to stop us from coming together to celebrate the triumph of the human spirit over adversity.

I© PennyTree Advisers, LLC 2014