Some of them understand the brutal dedication it takes to run the Boston Marathon.
Some of them have no idea what it feels like to run a 5K without stopping to catch their breath.
Some of them feel broken and injured by the bombs that exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring more than 150 others.
Some are too young to really understand just how fragile — and fleeting — life really is.
Their age, ability and even their dedication to the sport of running didn't matter Monday night, as thousands of people gathered at fun runs all across the country with a singular purpose — to show the Boston Marathon bombing victims they're loved by raising money to help them heal.
Each of them have a unique story to tell. Read four such stories from around the state of Utah written by Amy Donaldson, Kim Cowart, Brian Nicholson and Mark Nelson.
In addition, The Deseret News has compiled pictures and sentiments from four of the fundraising events that were held in Utah on Monday night benefiting the One Boston Fund. See the photo gallery and watch some video on this page.
Contributing: Amy Donaldson, Kim Cowart, Brian Nicholson and Mark Nelson. Follow Amy Donaldson on Twitter: @adonsports. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Kimberly Hammond Cowart
SANDY — First, I should admit that Monday was a really hard day. The more time that goes by, the more I realize the magnitude of what we saw and felt in Boston last week. I'm sure it's going to take awhile to fully digest and work through the complex feelings and emotions that keep swirling in my head and heart. The hardest part of these last few days is being away from my fellow runners, especially those who were in Boston with me. The world around me goes on and everything seems normal, but I don't feel normal. It's an isolating feeling.
Within minutes of arriving at the store I saw two good friends who greeted me with hugs and expressed how happy they were that I was there — literally. Soon after, a friend who was in Boston arrived and we began to talk about what we saw and how we were feeling now. It felt good to know that I wasn't struggling with coming to grips with everything alone.
The run began with a promise to stick together, support each other. It was mentioned that our sport is a special sport and the feeling was palpable. I was struck by the various ages, backgrounds and ability levels that came to show their support for those who needed it the most. No one seemed to care about anything other than being together. I walked with my youngest daughter, Ali, and my friend Jessica who was the first person to call me and actually broke the news to me about what was happening just down the block from my hotel. I had heard the explosions and the sirens, but didn't realize they were bombs until she called to ask if I was OK. One week ago we were crying together in grief over the phone. Today we smiled, laughed and watched our kids run and play together.
I don't think I'm ever going to be "normal" again. This event changed me to my core. But some of the changes were good. I am more grateful. I see how much I need my friends and family around me. It is clear to me how much my community means to me.
It was a good night.
By Amy Donaldson
SALT LAKE CITY — I saw her standing on the sidewalk next to her dad, eagerly scanning the crowd for that one face she'd come to support. When she saw her mother, she cheered momentarily and then bolted toward her.
"Can I run with you?" she called out. Her mom slowed, almost to a stop, and the preschool-aged little girl jogged in her jeans next to her mom. She only ran a couple hundred yards before she returned to her dad, but she wanted to run more and she made that clear.
This is where it all starts, I thought. This is where little girls decide running fast, just like their moms, is beautiful.
I passed a family — a father and four children — running together in a line, all holding hands. "We're going to stay together," the father said, instructing them on how to avoid collisions with other runners.
This is where families learn that nothing is too difficult or painful to overcome with the support of people who really know you — and still love you.
I passed Jesse Strong, running with his Army backpack full of gear on his back, who asked the women he was with if it would be OK if he ran on ahead.
This is where the courage and strength of other people will inspire you to be better and tougher than you imagined possible.
I passed a mom running in her Boston Marathon shirt pleasantly chatting with her son, who rode his bicycle next to her. She warned him about getting too close to runners and how to catch up to his father without bothering the runners swarming around them.
This is where little children learn that the needs of other people are as important as their own desires.
I passed a young mother, Colby Quinney, who pushed her baby, Noah, in a stroller. He wore the same yellow "Boston: Keep Running" shirts that many of the runners sported on the pleasant spring night.
This is where moms remind themselves that having children doesn't mean they do less for themselves. I passed two young women who approached the halfway mark and, clearly winded, decided they needed to walk. They talked about training for a race in June and what it might take to do it in a time that they would be proud of sharing. They smile, sweat glistening on their cheeks, as I said hello.
This, I thought to myself, is where runners are born. They take to the streets for different reasons, with different abilities and various kinds of baggage. Their reasons for starting don't matter — only that they had the courage to do so.
By Brian Nicholson
LAYTON — About 10 years ago, I started running in earnest to lose weight and get fit. Soon after, I committed to running a marathon and, from that moment on, my sights were set on Boston.
My first run, after spending a decade as a relatively sedentary person, was three miles. It took me a very long time, and caused a great deal of pain. Needless to say, I had a long way to go.
I ran hard and logged miles, got injured and recovered, and trained hard again, logged more miles and fell short of that goal over and over again. It seemed that on every single one of those — sometimes lonely, sometimes awkward, always uncomfortable — school bus rides to starting lines, I could overhear dozens of conversations about the Boston Marathon.
It seemed it was all anyone talked about. And to be honest, it was also all I could think about. In 2007, after eight marathons, I finally qualified and ran the 112th Boston Marathon in 2008. It was a dream come true and I soaked up every last minute of my trip to Beantown.
Now fast forward to 2013. I was returning to work from a late lunch and started hearing reports of what eventually turned out to be two bombs at the finish line of the most historic marathon in the world. We all know the story from here. From that shocking moment, I have had an overwhelming feeling of unity, patriotism and longing to help in this moment of tragedy.
A horrific attack that struck the sport I love the most; struck it at the Super Bowl of that sport. Social media channels lit up with support, telling unforgettable stories of valor, bravery, heroism and strength.
All the things I would expect to hear from a nation of runners who dedicate their mornings to punishing their bodies in order to strengthen their minds and spirits. Near the end of the week, I started hearing of some memorial runs to raise money for the victims of the bombings — for One Fund Boston. I thought to myself, “The LAST thing I need is another running shirt, but I absolutely CANNOT skip this run.”
The entire week, I felt the strength and power of all those people on all those uncomfortable buses, in all those communities in the entire nation, all coming together for the one thing that had drawn them all together.
The one thing they have talked about on countless buses before countless races of countless miles. The Super Bowl of running. The Boston Marathon.
My three miles weren’t much, nor was my $20. But with all you millions of running friends, we are huge. We are strong. We are united. And we will never be defeated.
By Mark Nelson
HEBER CITY — Our ride and run was very nice. We had one train car full of runners — over 50 people — that rode from Heber City to Soldier Hollow before we all got out and ran back to Heber City.
When the train started, we had a prayer for the families of those affected by last Monday's bombings. We had two great young ladies who ran in the Boston Marathon speak briefly. We collected a sizable amount of money for One Fund Boston, and we danced in the aisles to a couple of songs.
Then the train stopped at Soldier Hollow. We unloaded, took a picture — and ran back to the depot in Heber City via beautiful downtown Midway. It was a brisk and beautiful evening and I think everyone had a great time.