A week ago yesterday two cretins from Chechnya decided carry out the message of hatred and violence spewing out from the mouths of insecure people cowering behind the cloak of a perverted ideology. What was the target of these bold and tough warriors of a faith… the innocent and defenseless bystanders at the Boston Marathon who took the extra effort to go out and cheer on participants of the most revered events in the running world. I can only hope there is a special place in the afterlife reserved for the dark of heart. A place that will provide rightful punishment for a pair of cowards that took pleasure in placing and detonating a bomb next to an 8 year old. I personally extend my sympathies To all whose lives were cut short or forever altered by the actions of these terrorists. By definition terrorists derive pleasure by instilling fear in the minds of others. I imagine they achieve satisfaction by the mere thought of someone opting out of a once pleasurable event due to uncertainty and concern for danger. Needless to say this could be the case for millions of running enthusiast around the world. Is someone else going to trying something similar at another race? Do I want to put myself at risk and stand with fellow runners in the starting chutes? Will I be concentrating on picking suspicious people out along the race route instead of watching my splits? Will I be able to feel the pride of conquering a difficult race or too paralyzed at what might happen at the finish line?
The answer to these questions is quite simply: HELL NO!
Terrorists tried to take my sport from me but last night my fellow runners and I TOOK IT BACK!
Our local specialty running store – Running Central – in Peoria Heights put out the call to show our support and unity for our colleagues and the victims and families of Boston. In their honor running stores across the country were holding fund raisers and fun-runs. Running Central was offering tribute shirts with 100% of donations being forwarded to One Fund Boston, the charity endorsed by the Boston Athletic Association (and the mayor of Boston) to aid bombing victims.
The word went out to their running clientele, Facebook and local news agencies that the shirts would be available for purchase starting at 5:00pm with a fun run beginning at 5:30. Without question I was going to be there and hoped my fellow runners would be doing the same. Immediately after work Linda and I headed down there arriving just before the 5:00 hour. What I saw made me very proud to be a member of the running community.
The community had responded with a generous outpouring of support! All types had taken up the call, casual runners, distance runners, speed runners, beginners to veterans, young to old were there to show their support for Boston. By the time we made it to the area the line had nearly wrapped all the way around the courtyard. I saw the owner of the store surveying the situation and noticed he headed back into the store to pull out a couple more tables. Once placed he grabbed the microphone and greeted all the supporters thanking us for taking the time to honor the victims of Boston. He then said something that caught me by surprise – actually disappointed me at first. An apology came for not having ordered enough shirts – only 160 of them to be exact. My disappointment wasn’t that I might not get a shirt (far from it), but rather his initial assumption of a low turnout. Hopefully the turnout that night will forever change that for future events.
Hit the jump to read more about this special event!
Adam quickly assured us that everyone would have a chance to donate to the cause and that they would be overnighting another order of shirts to cover all the donations. Concerned about getting everyone through he provided a choice. You could stay in the current line and possibly get one of the shirts that night or simply sign up at the new set of tables and pick them up when they arrived later in the week. Without hesitation I moved to the pick up later line. Once everyone had been signed up they took a group photo and held a moment of silence. If you are curious, I’m standing by the back streetlight in the previous shots – black hat, white shirt. Being blessed with my personal photographer, Linda was busy taking shots along with their photographer up on the balcony. Afterwards everyone moved to the starting line to start the fun run.
Pretty easy to see me in that one – hint, my back is to you and in the opening near the left third of the shot. About this time I noticed Linda put her big glass down and opt for her phone camera. The tele didn’t provide a wide enough angle to get the crowd in.
According to Running Central there were 800-1,000 people there that night. It was hard for me to count, but Linda was thinking about that number as well.
Being a fun run there was no urgency to the start so we slowly trickled out onto the course taking precautions since the course was not officially closed. We did have the police providing some traffic control but the organizers didn’t want to impose on the local residents since this was a quickly planned event. This also provided me a opportunity to get a feel for the route used on the Peoria Heights Half Marathon that I ended up missing this year. Based on the portion we did it will provide a challenge – full of hills which means .. right up my alley. Add to that the scenic view of the Illinois River off of Grand View Drive means that Half will be added to next year’s calendar. As far as the run goes, they had a 1.5 mile turnaround point marked with a police car and volunteers. They indicated we were free to go further if we wished. Missing my weekend run due to being out of town I opted for the farther distance which took me further into the hills. All in all probably looking at a 4-4.5 mile run which felt good. No splits to hit, no cadence to follow – just two soles taking in the open road, taking back all the greatness of our sport. Two soles doing their best to raise up the Soul of Boston. Stay strong Boston, we have not forgotten you or anyone adversely affected by those who hide behind the religion of evil.
Check out the Eddiesoft Smugmug site for larger images if you want a better shot at identifying individuals (link here)