Across the nation, hearts are heavy after the recent tragedy at the Boston Marathon. Fellow runners, fellow spectators, and above all, fellow human beings, are deeply saddened by the horrific events that occurred on April 15. As millions mourn the deaths and injuries from this fateful event, prayers pour out for the families and loved ones of those affected.
Runners around the world are united by their respect for each other and their passion and commitment to the sport. When the horrific bombing took place at the Boston Marathon, it seemed as if everyone knew someone who was present.
For marathon runners like John Erme, purchasing manager at The Timken Company in Canton, the events took an extremely personal toll on him. Erme has run the Boston Marathon a total of six times, in the years
2003, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. After his first Boston Marathon, Erme increased his marathon frequency to one or two every year. He has run a total of 22 marathons in places like New York City, Scranton, Washington DC, Columbus, and Akron.
With such an impressive running resume, it was no surprise that Erme received a number of calls and texts from friends across the country checking on him after the Boston bombing. Even though he was not present, many acquaintances thought it was possible he could be, given his continued involvement in marathons througout the years.
Thankfully, Erme was safe in Canton. However, he knew of two Timken Company associates and others in the Canton running community who were there, as well as other friends he had who live in the Boston area.
"There were many anxious moments waiting for word on them," Erme said (all were found to be unharmed). "The running community obviously feels a kinship to Boston with one or two degrees of separation from it by having run it or knowing someone who has."
Erme, like many Americans, said he had a flood of emotions running through his mind when he caught wind of the horrible news: concern for the victims; anger at the bombers; pride for the volunteers and first responders rushing to help.
"The finish line at Boston is such a positive and uplifting experience," he said. "No one should have to worry about anything other than a runner pulling a muscle. The crowds are deep and loud, cheering friends, family and strangers in the final stretch. In past races, my friends and family were on that side of Boyleston Street [where the bombs went off]. The sheer innocence of that is gone. But it will be replaced with resilience, defiance and determination in honor of the victims."
Though the marathon was the target, Erme said that it could have happened at any large open event, running related or not. Since running events are open and free to the public and cover many miles of unsecure are, there will need to be increased security at high profile events. But increased diligence and awareness by the public of suspicious behavior will help most. That said, Erme does not plan to let this tragedy slow down his 25 year running career, and hopes to requalify in the fall for the 2014 Boston Marathon.
In the meantime, Erme is joining thousands of other Americans who are giving back and helping in one way or another. Erme participated along with 80 other runners in a music video produced by the Akron Marathon to benefit One Fund Boston.
Since its creation, One Fund Boston has raised over $30 million to help those most affected by the bombing. If you would like to donate, visit www.onefundboston.org.