By David W. Brown
I've been running a long time - more than 30 years counting the days I ran in high school. Back then, I ran to compete. Now, by and large, I run for the solitude that the road provides me as I navigate the pathways that give our city its character.
However, with the terrorist attack that struck the Boston Marathon, running has taken on a whole new meaning.
Anyone who has ever participated in an organized race watched with horror as the two explosives tore their way through our collective psyche. So many of us have been at a finish line - either as runners on the course or fans on the sidelines. To witness the transformation from a carnival atmosphere to one of carnage was simply overwhelming.
That makes Sunday's Broad Street Run all the more important. Like the Boston Marathon, the Broad Street Run is one of those signature events that define the essence of the city where it takes place. The Broad Street Run reflects the Philly landscape, as 40,000 runners from all over the world converge on this 10-mile straightway to the screams and cheers of thousands more and run through neighborhoods of poverty, wealth, and every station in between.
It's a tradition. But more. Broad Street is our street. It's where we salute our heroes and celebrate our champions.
It's also the one thoroughfare in our fair city that has more places of worship than any other. There are mosques, synagogues, and churches dotting several blocks and corners of Broad Street - all providing a spirit that comes to life when a spotlight like the Broad Street Run shines upon it.
When senseless acts like the bombing in Boston occur, calling on a spirit of healing makes the most sense. This Sunday, before we all sprint down Broad Street, many of us will gather in prayer to ask for healing of those affected by the tragedy. As a group, some of us might take a knee. Others may stand to observe the moment silently. And, as they do every year, houses of worship along the route will hold up signs of inspiration to power us all on to the finish line.
Like many runners, I know I'll be thinking about the acts of terror while pacing myself down Broad Street. I'll wonder whether such a thing could happen here. Despite the increased police presence, heightened security procedures, and alert levels in the red, it seems nothing can guarantee complete safety when someone is hell-bent on causing destruction at any cost.
At the end, we may not understand any better why anyone would take an innocent life in the name of a skewed ideology. Nor may we understand why innocent lives are being snuffed out in the streets of our city every day. But we do know that coming together to show our support - whether on our beloved Broad Street or in a marathon miles away - can make a difference in how we bring life to the lives we lead. Only then will the race be worth the run.