The unthinkable happened in Boston yesterday. At the finish line of the ultimate runner’s festival, three people are dead, many more are seriously injured (10 amputees!) and thousands are suffering from “it could have been me” shock.

Soon after reading about the tragedy, another headline caught my eye. It stated that the Vancouver Sun Run would go ahead but with increased security measures. And, just now, I heard a CBC radio talk show asking listeners how the Boston Marathon incident will change their participation in future running events.

At this time, the media is grasping to place the blame but, as of yet, the suspect, the evidence and the motive are still in question.

Forget investigative reporting; let’s just speculate.

But, in the absence of conclusive evidence, the media is doing a fabulous job of stirring up fear. Even without the full story, the media is determined to keep the masses scared by making them fearful of the latest new danger – Running.

As the media spins it, running is dangerous. For a number of years now, I have laughed my way through articles citing the health risks supposedly linked to running:

  • wearing out your knee joints
  • increased risk of heart attack for 2 years after event
  • scaring of the heart muscles (atrial fibrillation)
  • dehydration
  • hyponatremia
  • renal failure
  • blisters, sprains, muscle tears, tendon strains
  • (the finish chute of an 117 year-old, internationally acclaimed race)

Some of these risks are real but avoidable with a little education. Others are fear-mongering, plain and simple, and ways to keep potential joggers on the couch.

My response to this negative coverage of running is always the same. What state of health would I have if I didn’t run? How long would I live? How obese would I be? How soon would my hereditary cardiac disease become evident? How small would my world be? What kind of quality of life would I have?

Being a runner must be similar to being an artist. It is nebulous and difficult to justify to non-runners. There is an unexplainable force that drives you forward. It is not an easy task but there is something deep within you that needs to be expressed. There is no money in it and sometimes it hurts. It takes time and energy away from other aspects of your life. The pursuit of the goal is usually more important than the goal itself. The risks involved are over-shadowed by the pursuit of dreams and vistas.

I, for one, do not buy into any of the media slander. I will lace up my shoes this afternoon and participate in my track workout. I will think about the dead, the injured and the devastated runners. I will recall my Boston Marathon run twelve years ago and look forward the next adventure that pulls me out the door and into the beautiful world. I hope you will do the same.