STOWE, Vermont – The International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT) and its members wish to express our heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the people of Boston, the marathon runners and spectators, and particularly the victims and families of the senseless terrorist act during the Boston Marathon. We also commend the city and its first responders for their professionalism which undoubtedly prevented the further loss of life.
The Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annually run Marathon, first held in 1897 inspired by the marathon at the first modern Olympic Games in Athens, 1986. Fifteen runners started in that first race, compared to the more than 24,000 in this year’s race. The Marathon is held each year on “Patriot’s Day” – a state of Massachusetts holiday commemorating the start of the American Revolutionary War (War of Independence) against the British Empire, that began with a battle at Lexington and Concord (near Boston) in 1775 with the “shot heard round the world.”
The Boston Marathon is an iconic world event bringing people of all ages, and diverse cultures together from some 100 countries around the world in a demonstration of mutual respect and a celebration of the human spirit, cheered on and supported by more than 500,000 spectators.
That human spirit is perhaps best demonstrated by the story of Dick Hoyt and his son Rick who are eagerly anticipated each year by thousands of spectators/fans. Dick has cerebral palsy. Doctors said Rick would never have a normal life and thought that the best option was for him to be put in an institution. However Dick and his wife disagreed and raised him as a normal child. Eventually a computer device was developed that helped Rick communicate with his family, and they learned that one of his biggest passions was sports. “Team Hoyt” (Dick and Rick) started competing in charity runs, with Dick pushing Rick in a wheelchair. They have since competed in 66 marathons and 229 triathlons. Their top marathon finish was 2:40:47. The team completed their 30th Boston Marathon in 2012, when Dick was 72 and Rick was 50.
It is certain that this one tragic event will not dampen the human spirit of the Boston Marathon and that it will continue to be held on Patriot’s Day for years to come.