This article was meant to be so easy to write, and it was initially. When I first wrote it on Sunday 14th April, all I had to do was say why on earth I decided to run the London Marathon this Sunday. It is not that complicated: because I can. It is there as a challenge to be conquered, like a mountain or getting a degree. It is something for the bucket list, something you will take to the grave that can never be taken away. It is not unlike becoming a father or mother, or married, or publishing a book: no matter if you do it once or 13 times, you can still refer to yourself as a marathon runner even in death; it becomes something bigger than yourself.
I was going to talk about how it will be a big middle finger to my past-self; the nerdy kid who always got picked last at football. I was going to make some sort of quip on that, or recite an old tale from my school days. It will also be a big middle finger to my arthritis, that I found I had only by seeking physiotherapy for the marathon. Ironically, the marathon was responsible for some of the worst news of 2012 for me, but had I not entered it and found out about the stiffness in my foot, it could be a lot worse in my thirties than it will be now I can prevent it progressing. Yet that is only part of the motivation that will drag me the last few agonising miles.
I was also going to write about how much hard work (and, yes, enjoyment) I get out of fundraising for Oxfam, who I am running for. That is still valid. It is a great charity, doing amazing work. Name a place on earth, name an emergency, name an issue, and they are there. Syria? Yes. Zimbabwe? Yes. Pakistan? Again, yes. The £2000 pound I'll raise just by giving up a Sunday will allow them to do so, so much, from providing clean water and securing food supplies, to empowering women and educating children, a few hours of pain is really nothing.
Then Boston happened. My original article became meaningless. All the talk about myself suddenly meant nothing. Yet, I have never thought about pulling out. This will make sense to all the runners on Sunday (and their families), but the marathon started last year. Training several times a week, fundraising even shoe fittings, all take time. Think of your average week, and how busy it is. Now add an hour of running after work two to three times instead of a glass of wine and East Enders. Add two, three hours of solid running on a Sunday, come rain, sun or even snow. That's even before fundraising. So we have too much invested in this to give up now, even if we have worries about security.
But a marathon is always bigger than one person. The fantastic thing about running, despite it seeming like an individual sport, is the community. I love the fact that Oxfam team constantly talk to each other, sharing information, laughter and tears. I love the fact that one of that team has become so much more than a training partner to me; she has become one of my closet, dearest friends. It is that I can walk into my local running shop and get greeted by a hug and a cup of tea. It is the faces of the supporters on race day, giving up their valuable time to support complete strangers. It is the pat on the back from fellow runner when I am struggling at the side of a road, and when I cross that finish line.
This is why we are all Bostonians on Sunday. We are invisibly, yet indelibly, bonded to our brethren on the other side of the Atlantic. We may not know them or we may be their family, but on Sunday we run for those who could not, and those who can no longer run. We feel united by the fact that they have trained like us, fundraised like us, given so much of themselves for something that was cruelly dashed at the last minute for so many, with seemingly no motive.
Know this Boston, like you, we do not cower, we do not back down or take a backwards step in the face of such an atrocity. We do the opposite; we go forward, running as fast as we can, as we dare. We take your pain, make it our own, and push ourselves further with it. We are with you Boston, over each and every one of those 26.2 miles. We will show, no matter what, there is good in this world, and we will show the world we stand united, and that the attacks on Monday have not dampened this. The opposite is true, just as our personal motivations caused us to run in the first place, the community of running has been drawn closer by the exclamation of violence on the 15th.
We will run every mile as a show of defiance and solidarity.
We will run every mile for Boston.
To give to my London Marathon fund for Oxfam, please go to http://www.justgiving.com/DamonLondonMarathon.