Nicholas Thompson at The New Yorker on what a marathon attack means To bomb a marathon, writes Nicholas Thompson, is to stage an attack on human achievement in its most everyday form. "It's an epic event," Thompson writes, "in which men and women appear almost superhuman. The winning men run for hours at a pace even normal fit people can only hold in a sprint. But it's also so ordinary. It's not held in a stadium or on a track. It's held in the same streets everyone drives on and walks down. An attack on a marathon is, in some ways, more devastating than an attack on a stadium; you're hitting something special but also something very quotidian." By the same token, he argues, we can't say for sure who would devise such a plot. "When we find out who did this, we may well find some fascination with the event—perhaps a foreign terrorist, or a sick American. ... Or perhaps it was someone who saw a reflection of the human spirit and decided just to try to shatter it." Thompson's colleague Susan Orlean concurs: "If the explosions were purposeful, whoever did it knew that it would catch people at an exceptional, joyous moment, when they come together in the sweetest way, helping each other fly." Isa Qasim at the Yale Daily News agrees, in a ruminative piece on the nature of running: "Running is not an escape. It is a confrontation. It is a refusal to accept the world as it is and an almost naive insistence that work can change things for the better. It is a refusal to accept terror. That is why I, try as I might, cannot view this marathon as a tragedy. A tragedy is irredeemable, but the events of yesterday have already been redeemed."
John Tlumacki at Time on photographing the explosions What is it like to photograph horror as it rapidly unfolds? John Tlumacki, a long-time photographer for The Boston Globe, writes that the explosions both terrified him and triggered his instinct to capture what was going on. "There was this big cloud of smoke and people screaming. The percussion from that explosion threw my cameras up in the air. Right in front of me, one of the runners fell on the ground — he was blown over from the blast. My instinct was … no matter what it is, you’re a photographer first, that’s what you’re doing." Honestly documenting tragedy, he writes, requires seeking the truth without exploiting suffering. "You try not to get your emotions involved, but there was this man who was kneeling over this woman. Obviously she was injured pretty badly, and he's just comforting her. ... From a photographer’s point of view, you’ve seen these pictures before. I made it, and then I moved on. But then a cop came to me, grabbed me, and said: 'Do me a favor. Do not exploit the situation.' And that resonated with me. I can't think about it — I gotta keep doing what I'm doing." New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof described Tlumacki's piece as a "wrenching account [of the] finish line."