Hes a Boston native with plenty of hometown pride, and Matt- Damon wrote an essay about the Boston Marathon just weeks before the horrific bombing attack earlier this week.
The Good Will Hunting star remembers his own experience with the historic annual event and credits the marathon with helping him bond with his father, an avid runner himself.
Damon shared, Boston is a sports town. Admittedly, there are those who suggest that we natives take our sports a bit too seriously, but rarely do these critics hail from Boston. Some of my most vivid childhood sports memories took form in the early 1980s at Fenway Park, the Boston Garden, and by the side of the road near the fire station on Commonwealth Avenue in Newton.
On the third Monday in April, Comm. Ave. transforms into a sporting spectacle like no other, overwrought with nerves and excitement as enervated runners from around the world confront the historic Heartbreak Hill(s). Ill never forget standing there in the crowd with my brother, Kyle, as we looked first for Bill Rodgers, and then, in the very same race as some of the most talented runners on earth, our smiling (and grimacing) 40-year-old dad.
Matt continued, My dad, Kent, never did catch Rodgers, but he ran the Marathon with the same passion as Boston Billy, and he did so four times throughout my childhood. I later learned that our viewing locale represented more than just the courses most convenient proximity to our home; it was part of my dads careful design to supply himself with the necessary motivation to face the daunting topography that follows the 18-mile mark.
Clearly my dads strategy has caught onnowadays the Heartbreak Hill section of the Boston Marathon course features crowds roughly five deep. At this junction, in particular, a palpable bond exists between audience and athlete, forming a distinctive stew of sympathy and suffering that has lasting effects for both parties. In fact, many of those running in the race are doing so precisely because of their past experiences watching it.
The word Boston is itself a hallmark in the international running community, forging a bond by the very sound of it between all who count themselves among its ranks and those who aspire to them. The strict qualifying standards, originally implemented to thin the growing field, ironically, today only enhance the races appeal to people whose primary motivation in running is not medals. Now many run for a slimmer waistline, a healthier lifestyle, or simply the challenge of completing 26.2 miles. These people are champions, too.
My brother also fell victim to the Boston Marathons seduction. With me serving as water boy, Kyle earned his spot in the Hopkinton corrals at the Las Vegas Marathon in February 2000. Then in April, in a cathartic reenactment of our Comm. Ave. exploits of exactly 20 years prior, he positioned his two boys at the same spot where we rooted on our dad. The drama was enough to propel my brother to literally follow our dads footsteps and also run the race four times. To this day both my father and brother have their bib numbers archived with their most prized possessions and describe their experiences as some of the most emotional moments of their lives.