Between managing his career, being a father of four, and renewing his wedding vows, Matt Damon found time to contribute to a new (somewhat scholarly) book, "The Official History of the Boston Athletic Association, 1887-2012." In the excerpt reprinted in the Boston Globe last month, the star reflected on his ties to the famous Boston Marathon.
At the time, his essay was a heartfelt homage to his hometown and his father -- who ran the marathon a whopping four times. However, in light of Monday's tragedy, it reads with an even more poignant meaning.
The 42-year-old actor, who grew up in the greater Boston area, remembered, "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 of 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). I’ll 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."
The actor 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 course’s most convenient proximity to our home; it was part of my dad’s careful design to supply himself with the necessary motivation to face the daunting topography that follows the 18-mile mark."
Damon credited his father with starting somewhat of a trend.
"Clearly my dad’s strategy has caught on -- nowadays 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."
Perhaps one of the most touching lines was one of the simplest, when Damon noted, "In fact, many of those running in the race are doing so precisely because of their past experiences watching it."
And what was his view of the marathon in present day? Damon said it was even better.
"We do see a different and perhaps even nobler spirit at work, as more and more participants at BAA events are raising money for worthy causes, he wrote. "My brother and I are proud to be part of that trend, as we have runners from our foundation TEAM.Water.org out on the roads of Boston alongside all the charities and foundations represented."
In a final thought, Damon reflected, "These people are doing something good for themselves -- and for others. How great is that?"
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