Comebacks: Lessons From The Boston Marathon

A conflicted happy-sad feeling welled up in me as I drove to church this Easter Sunday. I was listening to NPR recount comeback stories from the 2013 Boston Marathon. Thousands of human beings racing back toward the scene of one of the most horrific days in their lives.

I was particularly touched by the 2013 First Responders running their first marathon tomorrow. The Boston Athletic Association had expanded their definition of what it means to qualify to run Boston along with more bibs to accommodate those with a strong need for closure and sense making.

As I turned the corner, I saw the colorful explosion of glorious He Is Risen balloons tied to every tree, parking meter, and sign in our town, a sunrise offering by the youth of a neighboring church. That scene always makes me feel like God just can’t hold back. On this particular morning a smiling runner had grabbed up a handful of those balloons and was running down the street.

I shot him an energetic “YES”! The kind you can’t hear, but you both feel deeply.

YES.. we must show up again even when it scares us.

YES… we must find strength through fear.

YES… we must keep running.

I thought of the running:

  • I did when I was overcoming a divorce
  • I was doing when I fell in love with my now husband as we both ran the Dublin Marathon.
  • I had done so to qualify for the Boston Marathon, and the people who were there to watch.
  • That had led our children to support us at many finish lines over the years, “It will only be a few hours”
  • .

What The Boston Marathon Has Become

The Boston Marathon has always been a beacon, a hill, a journey for which runners yearn to be a part. “If only I could qualify for Boston.” An individual aspiration.

Now it’s about coming back strong. A community working together to overcome fear to show the bad guys we’re not afraid to come back. A metaphor for my work ahead. Your work ahead. Our work ahead.

Sure we’re scared. Bad things do happened that don’t make sense. What if? Or what if they? What if I’m not strong enough to come back?

There’s power in YES.

Most of our stories are not as dramatic as those experienced by the survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing, but we all have comebacks which are worthy of lacing up our shoes, picking up a balloon, and taking the first step.

To what (or whom) does your heart want to say YES!

Posted in Authenticity & Transparency, Career & Learning and tagged , , , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, Founder of Let’s Grow Leaders, helps leaders around the world achieve breakthrough results, without losing their soul. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she has over two decades of experience in sales, customer service, and HR. She was recently named on Inc's list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers and American Management Association's 50 Leaders to Watch. She’s the author of 3 books: Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul, Overcoming an Imperfect Boss, and Glowstone Peak.


  1. Powerful.

    I feel like I’m on the edge of some big yeses that are still taking shape. I’m saying a big yes to letting go of the heaviness of obligation for much, much more fun, joy and play (and I can still be responsible and accountable and a whole heck of a lot more joyful too)

  2. Karin- that for capturing my emotions while reading this lovely post.
    As for me, the biggest comeback in my life when I was doing my master degree. My research work faltered and results were completely off-mark. I almost left before completing my degree. In a dream I saw what was wrong and I proved that all published literature was erroneous. I got my master degree and a PhD scholarship. Challenges are rewarding.

  3. Beautiful post Karin! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, comeback stories!

    Interesting that you asked about big comebacks – this is a quote from my post yesterday about our biggest struggles in life…

    “When lessons from your greatest struggle collide with and grow your greatest strength…
    Your purpose is discovered and unleashed, lives are changed, and your cells dance!”

    I’m saying yes to the lessons and the growth that come from struggles!

  4. Comebacks are a way that we can overcome our obstacles and show ourselves our ability to be strong and survive. This year’s Boston marathon is such a powerful metaphor for empowering humanity to rise above evil and destruction. The lesson it taught me is to never give in to people who do bad things but rather figure out ways to add meaning into your life.

    I have overcome personal disappointments by keeping my spirits high and using positive self-talk to regroup and take action.

    Great post, Karin!

  5. Loved this post, Karin.

    I also loved the way you tied this message into the Easter message…there is nothing that that cannot be overcome – even death! When we take this perspective, we are truly empowered!

  6. You know I am so happy for the turn out this year!! My brother has been a runner in the marathon for the last 3 years and he was one of the victims of last year’s tragedy. He remained upset for a few months after the event last year but he finally realized the only way to deal with what happened was to run again and prove the terrorists that we are strong and will not be bullied! Even with his medical issues he did well yesterday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.