What were you trying to accomplish with your finish line stunt? Did you think you could scare us away from running? Frighten us away from racing? Terrify us from gathering to celebrate our abilities and accomplishments? If that was your goal, your sorry plan was predestined to fail.
Runners don’t scare easily. We race against the odds daily. We race against ourselves, and the limits of our own bodies. We race against the elements: from snow-covered alpine peaks, through white-hot deserts, and past busy city streets. We race against poverty, injustice, war, and disease. And we’ve proven we can go the distance: be it 3 miles, 135 miles, or the breadth of an entire continent.
As runners, we’ll race again next month, maybe even next week. Hell, some of us might even race tomorrow. And when we do, it will be in the memory of our fallen friends, volunteers, and supporters. We don’t run because we want to, we run because it makes us who we are. Running makes us stronger individuals, better people for our families and neighbors, and positive influences in our communities. It is a feeling you’ve likely never known, nor ever will.
Rest assured, we will never stop running. Tomorrow, as we lace up our well-worn shoes, we will be steady in our resolve. We will run for the benefit of our families, friends and—sometimes—total strangers. We will run to raise the bar—to redefine the possibilities of humanity and set new expectations for excellence. We will run out of an unflagging respect for life, and our reverent obligations to it. And we will run bravely and courageously because—for us—running is tantamount to liberty itself. Runners measure their freedom in footsteps.
Your actions today ended in the ultimate irony—you’ve suddenly become one of us. Forevermore, you will run. But unlike us, you will run out of fear, you will run out of cowardice, and you will run out of sheer panic. Unlike us, your run will garner no love from family, friends, and supporters. And unlike us, your freedom will now be measured not in footsteps, but in days.
You will forevermore chase your liberty, while we forevermore will chase you. In this race, you stand no chance—we can go the distance. And when we catch you at your finish line, we’ll have a place to put our well-worn shoes.