Marathon

Obviously a terrible tragedy yesterday in Boston. It is all the more sinister because of what the finish line of a Marathon typically represents: a supportive, celebratory place of individual achievement.

I have finished two Marathons in my life, the 2004 Richmond and 2005 Marine Corps races. For me, these races were culminations of my losing about 60 pounds that I gained during graduate school (a decidedly unhealthy time for me in many ways) and the birth of my kids (my wife lost weight after childbirth, I just kept going!). One of the most beautiful moments of my life was making the left turn at around the 26 mile mark of the Richmond Marathon and seeing the finish line: I knew that I would finish. I began to weep as people shouted Go Don Go, you did it! (I had my name printed on my race bib) and the crowd roared, even for someone like me who finished in the 4 hour 40 something minute time range.

That is the point of the finish line at a Marathon. Long after the race winner has had a meal and a massage, normal people do extraordinary things, cheered on sometimes by family, but always by loving, supportive strangers. The finish line of a Marathon is quite an experience, and one that cannot be ceded to the acts of yesterday.

About Don Taylor
Professor of Public Policy at Duke University (with appointments in Business, Nursing, Community and Family Medicine, and the Duke Clinical Research Institute). I am one of the founding faculty of the Margolis Center for Health Policy, and currently serve as Chair of Duke's University Priorities Committee (UPC). My research focuses on improving care for persons who are dying, and I am co-PI of a CMMI award in Community Based Palliative Care. I teach both undergrads and grad students at Duke. On twitter @donaldhtaylorjr

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