Alabamian Randy Lyle was so close to the finish line at the Boston Marathon last year, just a half-mile from the goal, when he and other runners were stopped because of the bombing. But he is going back to Boston this year, resolved to finish what he started. He is among the thousands returning to Boston who refuse to let the threat of terrorism stop them.
According to Lyle’s calculations, he should have been right in the middle of the Boston bombing because, up until the last three miles of the marathon, he was on track to cross the finish line at 2:49 pm. The bombs went off at 2:50.
What kept the fiercely determined Lyle from being in exactly the wrong place at the wrong time was nothing short of a miracle. The Boston Marathon was certainly not Randy’s first distance race. He runs on a regular basis. But on this day, just three miles from the Boston Marathon finish line, Randy developed a sort of cramp or dull ache in the back of his left quad muscle. He tried to push through it and run, but the cramp persisted, forcing him to walk. Each time he tried to run again, the pain intensified.
Like most runners, he is accustomed to pushing through the pain. But this was somehow different. With deep frustration, the marathon runner was resigned to walk the rest of the way. Randy would not cross the line at the time he had set for himself of 2:49, a goal he had been on pace to meet throughout the entire race.
As Lyle crested the final hill a half-mile from the Boston Marathon finish line, he saw some people in jeans standing in the middle of the road. He was about to yell that they move out of the way, when he saw the racing bibs, signifying they were with the marathon. They motioned for him to stop. That is when he noticed several police cars ahead. The terrorists had exploded bombs at the finish line that killed four and injured more than 260 innocent people. He would have been right there in the middle of it were it not for that odd cramp.
Randy had not experienced pain like that in that particular spot ever before, or since. “For the first time in my brief running career, I was thankful for a cramp.” He believes that it was God who spared his life through that pain. And he is determined to make his life count.
In his blog Running Randy, Lyle writes about running and about his feelings as he anticipates the 2014 Boston Marathon:
“From my perspective, there is no way I think I will be able to run that race without thinking about the victims of last year’s senseless bombing. I still get a lump in my throat when I think about all those innocent people who were injured and killed. It is especially hard when I think about Krystle Campbell, Martin Richard, Lingzi Lu and Sean Collier. These folks lost their lives unnecessarily. There were also over 260 that received treatment in area hospitals last year. As we all know, many of those were severely injured and some even lost limbs. Again, so unnecessary. I know that I will be thinking about these people throughout the marathon next Monday.”
In an interview on Superstation 101 in Birmingham, Randy said that he is not afraid of the terrorists, and that he is going back this year to complete what he started. If the bad guys think that they can stop this marathon, he said they obviously know Boston very well. Nor do they know runners.
Boston is foundational to the American Revolution. Bostonians have historically shown that they do not back down, nor should they be expected to in the future. The Boston Tea Party was obviously in Boston. Randy’s wife is from Cape Cod, and the couple has spent some time in Boston among the people. He says they are a strong, resilient bunch of folks. They have no interest in cowing in fear now. They are “Boston Strong.”
And the terrorists don’t know runners, according to Lyle. Runners are a unique breed of people who live a lifestyle of pushing through the pain, determined to finish what they started. Many of his fellow marathoners view this as a challenge. They won’t back down.
The Bible verse Micah 7:8 has been a driving force in Randy’s life, even before the bombing. It applies especially well now after the Boston Marathon attack:
“Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.”
Randy Lyle is determined to rise up and cross that Boston Marathon finish line on Boylston Street. He will be joined in Boston by 36,000 racers who are registered. They run to honor and remember those injured and lost.
Randy has run 124 races, including 20 marathons. The Boston Marathon is the only race he has not completed once begun, and this time, Randy Lyle intends to finish it.
[images via Randy Lyle]