Hopefully, as you read this, you are nice and warm, sipping a cup of coffee and enjoying your family as you prepare for a Thanksgiving feast. Or maybe, like me, you’ll read the paper when you get home, after logging a few cold, probably wet, miles with a bunch of friends at a local turkey trot.

Isn’t that what Thanksgiving is all about? Spending time with family and being thankful for all the great people in your life, while eating a ton of food, watching a lot of football and flashing back to your youth in one form of athletic endeavor or another. I’m thankful I took up running and replaced our annual Turkey Bowl touch football games with the Gasping Gobbler 5K in Augusta. The 5K on Thanksgiving morning hurts for (hopefully) about 22 minutes (about the time it will take me to run the race). The Turkey Bowl hurt for days. I’ll take that tradeoff any day.

And speaking of sports, 2013 has given us plenty to be thankful for.

Topping that list is the Boston Red Sox. This bearded bunch of fools gave us a completely unexpected and oh so rewarding World Series title. This new group of idiots not only lifted the Sox back to prominence after one of their worst seasons ever, but lifted the wounded spirits of the city of Boston after the bombings at the Boston Marathon. A World Series title doesn’t take away the pain of those injured or killed, but it makes the healing a whole lot easier. David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli, Koji Uehera and the rest of those hairy goofballs brought us so many happy moments. For that, we should all be thankful.

Speaking of the Boston Marathon, every runner should give thanks to the strength shown during such a tragic time. The Boston Marathon is the gold standard in road racing. Any runner who has laced up a pair of running shoes with any regularity, and follows the sport even the slightest, knows the importance of this race. For many of us, qualifying for Boston is the ultimate goal. The holy grail.

To have that celebration of not only road racing, but the city of Boston, attacked was heartbreaking. Anyone who runs in road races will tell you how important spectators are. Everyone draws from the energy of family, friends and complete strangers cheering for you in what is, admittedly, a selfish pursuit. Those were the people attacked in Boston that morning in April. Those people, who bring so much joy to so many runners, suffered simply because they showed up to cheer on Mom or Dad, their college roommate, their big brother.

In the aftermath of the bombings, runners banded together. They joined up for group runs to show their support for those injured and for each other. They raised money. They trained harder than ever to be a part of next year’s Boston Marathon.

I’m thankful to be a part of that community. I’m thankful I was at the Marathon this year and got the chance to see just what makes this race so special. I’m thankful for all the phone calls and texts after the bombings from family and friends to make sure I was OK. I’m thankful all my friends in Boston that day made it out unharmed. I’m thankful to run another day and to be able to chase my dream of one day qualifying for Boston.

There is so much else to be thankful for. The city of Augusta should give thanks to the Cony football team for giving it a show it has never seen before. The Rams put on an aerial display that led them to their first state title since 1932 and it was capped off with a thrilling, late-game drive that will be talked about at Thanksgiving dinner tables for years to come.

We should be proud of athletes like Bethanie Brown, Matt McClintock and Kristy Bernatchez, who are excelling at Division I schools. We should be thankful those fine young athletes represent their hometowns so well.

I could go on and on. Sports give us so much to be thankful for. They bring us so much joy, teach us so many lessons, serve as a distraction to all the other noise in our lives.

I’m thankful every day that sports are a huge part of my life. Thanksgiving morning I’ll take a moment to say thanks. Probably after those painful 22 minutes.

Scott Martin —621-5618[email protected][email protected]ottamartin

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