2013infographic-stats (1)You can’t live in the Boston area without being aware of the Marathon. Packs of runners train on the course before the snow is gone, dodging cars and trying to avoid puddles of melted sludge. Streets are closed, snarling traffic and annoying drivers to no end. It’s a local institution and brings the eyes of the (sporting) world to our fair city. It also brings a lot of money and tourists to the area and is used as an event by a number of charities to raise pledge donations.

From Hopkington to Boston is a long, long, looooonnnng way. Lots of urban legends surround the race — bandits (unofficial runners without race bibs), cheaters, less-than-perfect sportsmanship — but the vast majority of stories are of courage, perseverance, fortitude, and all the other sports platitudes associated with endurance events. We’ve got the ultra-inspirational Hoyts, Joan Benoit Samuelson and Bill Rodgers, not to mention Lelisa Desisa Benti and Rita Jeptoo, who won the men’s and women’s foot race and Tatyana McFadden and Hirouyuki Yamamoto, who won the women’s and men’s wheelchair race today. It’s a world-class field, and Boston puts on one heck of a show.

Today, someone decided to take advantage of that attention to make a point. We still (at 10PM) don’t know who, or why, or what they were trying to say. But let’s make sure that they don’t get the last word. Let’s focus instead on the first responders who ran TO the commotion, not away from it. Let’s talk about the people who worked in the medical tents, who directed runners and spectators to safety, reconnected families, offered a place to sleep for those who couldn’t get home, and lent their cellphones. Let’s talk about athletes who trained for months for this event and, in many cases, raised thousands of dollars for charities they believe in. Let’s reach out and help the families of those affected here today. THAT’s what’s important.

Depending on when you read this, some of this may no longer be operational but as of right now,

  • Boston’s Mayor’s hotline can help you reconnect with a family member in the race: 617-635-4500.
  • Boston.com has set up a Google Doc for those who need a place to stay because they’re unable to get home for some reason.
  • Try Google Person Finder (special Boston site) to find the rest of your party.

Infographic courtesy John Hancock.