It’s time to run the 107th Boston Marathon. The race is on Monday April 21st. My bib number is 12834. You can track my progress live at bostonmarathon.com. I thank you for the incredible support you gave last year [See “Marathon woman“]. It was an honor to hear from so many of you, many with the kindest words (and a few with the foulest). It’s great to know there are at least ten other Iranians running Boston this year.
The competitive athlete runs for the medal, the glory, the world record. The average runner runs for another reason; a mid-life crisis, a point to prove, a case to make, a battle with self, the joy of feeling one's body and testing its limits.
Throughout my training in the brutal winter of Baltimore this year, I have asked myself the reason for this run. Here's the reason: I will be running for Nadia Khalaf, the 33-year-old Iraqi woman who just completed her Ph.D. in psychology, and was killed when a missile entered through a bedroom window of her family’s flat [See news]. I will be running for the children of Iraq who were born in war, grew up in another war and died in yet another one.
I will be running for the scorched museums and libraries of Baghded which carried in them the story of the birthplace of civilization. I will be running for the kind-hearted and most hospitable people of Sardasht, chemically bombed by Saddam during the Iran-Iraq war and abandoned by the World to suffer in silence. I will be running for Behnaz my schoolmate, who lost her eyes from a blasted window when her house was bombed in our neighborhood in Orumieh while studying at home for the university entrance exam.
I will be running for the 8000 dead of Halabche, the one million victims of the Iran-Iraq war, the third generation refugee camp survivors of Palestine, the once again forgotten men and women of Afghanistan, the victims of the wars to come in Iran, Syria and wherever else the warlords chose for their next feast.
I will be running for the thousands of dead men and boys in Sarajevo, the raped women of Bosnia, the thousands of dead in New York's World Trade Center, the millions of victims of civil wars in Rwanda, Sudan, Congo, Columbia, Algeria… Is there any end to pain? Is there any good in war?
I will run with the recognition that next year, it might be the proud mountains of Iran, the beautiful mosques of Isfahan, the serene gardens of Shiraz, the everlasting palaces of Persepolis, the crowded streets of my beloved Tehran, the thousands of years of history in Soosh, Choghazanbil, Marlik, Pasargad, and Hegmatneh that will be defiled by the steps of soldiers that have no awareness of this incredible past.
Tanks might be rolling through the birthplaces of Khayyam, Hafez, Shamloo, Forough, Ferdowsi, Ebn-e Sina, Razzi, Baarbod, Kaveh, Rostam, Tahmineh, Mossadegh, Amir Kabir, Anooshiravan. The next bomb might fall on Abiyanieh, Massoleh, Kelardasht, Toos, who knows? Does anybody care?
I will be running with the heaviest of hearts. This time, I will be running for the memory of a lost concept: Peace.