Fun runs will raise money, show support for Boston

Published: Friday, April 19 2013 8:55 p.m. MDT

A runner shows a banner reading: "Boston we are with you - Belgrade runners" in an organized memorial run to show solidarity with victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, Tuesday, April 16, 2013, in Belgrade, Serbia. The explosions Monday afternoon killed at least three people and injured more than 140.

Darko Vojinovic, Associated Press

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In the hours and days after two homemade bombs killed three and injured more than 130 others, local running stores became places for runners to congregate and process the horrific acts that shattered the joy of the 117th Boston Marathon.

Owners and managers listened to customers and began sharing with each other the desire to do something to show support, raise money and begin the healing process for runners — and those who support them — across the country.

“These terrorists didn’t just attack those people, they attacked every marathoner in the country, in the world,” said Glen Gerner, owner of Wasatch Running Center in Sandy. “These stores have such a relationship, we all just wanted to reach out to the communities.” Within two days, the Independent Running Retailers Association suggested stores offer communities the opportunity to run for Boston in fundraising fun runs all held at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 22 — exactly one week after the deadly attacks. There are runs schedule at Wasatch Running Center (Sandy), Salt Lake Running Company (Salt Lake City) and a Heber Creeper Train Ride/Run (Heber City, hebervalleyrr.org)all scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday.

The connections were numerous and personal for runners, including the fact that one famous independent running store became a life-saving operation in the minutes after the bombs exploded among spectators.

“Marathon Sports is right at the finish line,” said Gerner. “It’s right next to where one of the bombs went off, and people were brought into the store and they were wrapping them in new merchandise to try and stop the bleeding. The idea started to spread almost immediately.”

The IRRA was the impetus, but it’s the local running stores that have organized the hundreds of runs and that will cover the costs of printing T-shirts for those who participate.

Just getting shirts printed by Monday will be a challenge.

“The goal (of forming IRRA) was to keep the running community local,” said Guy Perry, owner of Salt Lake Running Company. “Some things a running store can do that a big corporate store cannot. Like this, we can move fast.”

Salt Lake Running and Wasatch Running Center are among the stores hosting runs, as well as accepting donations and selling T-shirts to raise money for the One Fund Boston (onefundboston.org). Perry said he believed Striders in Layton planned a run as well, although the store’s website asked customers to come in for ways to support the One Fund Boston. (Utahrunning.com has a list of local running stores, along with phone numbers to inquire about possible fundraising fun runs on Monday.)

Mark Nelson, founder and race director of various events including The Best Dam Half and Wasatch Back Marathon, organized the train ride and run in Heber City.

“I had a strong feeling that runners wanted to show their support for Boston, the victims and express their resilience as runners and people,” Nelson said. “I’m fortunate to have access to a tourist railroad in a beautiful place, so why not give a bunch of runners a chance to pack in the train for 15 minutes or so (and ride) out to Soldier Hollow, and then run back together? Call it an excuse for a bunch of people who love running and life to get together.”

Nelson invited several of those who ran Boston to run the race as a way to show support and offer an opportunity to heal. There is no cost to any of the races, but those interested in the train ride should call the Heber Valley Railroad at 435-654-5601 to reserve a ticket. Wasatch Running isn’t requiring registration but Salt Lake Running is asking participants to register, especially if they want a T-shirt.

The response has been a little overwhelming.

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