Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Honoring Boston's Runners

This past Monday runners and walkers of all ages descended on downtown Corinth to honor runners of the 117th Boston Marathon along with runners of this great race from years past. There was no entry fee, no clocks or metals...well, there were a couple that you'll find out about a little later.

Since I wasn't able to attend the event I asked my fellow runner, Janet, to write me a little something about it. Here is what she had to say and how it all came together.

Monday, April 15, 2013, greeted the running community with excitement and apprehension as the 117th Boston Marathon kicked off. Those running the marathon anxiously awaited the payoff of countless hours of sacrifice and miles of training for this, the most revered of all road races. For friends and family of the runners, it was to be a day of cheering on, praying for, and keeping track of our runners. My students were excited to spend the day following several of my running buddies, especially Koach Kenneth Williams.

Needless to say, the day’s mood changed abruptly and dramatically with the bomb blasts. Due to the extensive news coverage, I won’t go into detail about the bombings. Suffice it to say, though, that there was panic in many hearts. Fortunately, as reports came in about specific runners, we found out pretty quickly that Koach and the rest of our crew were safe.

Even after Koach texted me that Monday night, I still wasn’t completely at ease. That feeling didn’t come until the Saturday following the marathon when I actually got to hug Koach in person. There are no words to describe the feeling of seeing Koach for myself! In every family there is a rock—Koach is the rock in our running family!!

On Wednesday the 17th, Jody Ballard shot me a text asking if I thought we should get Team Corinth together to do a run on Monday the 22nd to honor Boston. “Sure!” I said. The rest, as they say, is history.

What started out as a plan for about 25 of us to meet for a low-key tribute run became an event attended by some 300 people raising $2000 for the One Fund Boston charity. As Jody and I began contacting people and posting on Facebook about the run, it just seemed to take off. The mayor of Corinth spoke as The Daily Corinthian and WTVA News provided media coverage. The most distinguished guests of the evening were the runners who had been participants in the 117th Boston Marathon, as well as several other Boston Marathon alumni: Koach Kenneth Williams, Jane Clair Shettles, Misty Thompson, Heather Duley, Jimmy and Roan Johnson, Patricia Kessler, John Aikin, Amy Ballard, Bridgett Jolly, Joy Gray, Julie Pittman, Woody Harrell, and Alan Smith.

I would have never considered myself an event planner, but I have to say, I really enjoyed working with Jody to make this run happen. We started planning Thursday for the run to take place Monday, so there wasn’t a lot of time to let my nerves get the best of me. I kept telling Jody that I couldn’t stop to think about it or I’d have a meltdown!

Thankfully, with help from our families and countless others, the tribute run was a huge success. The congratulatory pats on the back and way to goes felt awesome, but the most cherished thanks and sentiments came from the Boston marathoners. Koach and Roan were very emotional as they were symbolically presented the finishers’ medals that they weren’t able to receive in Boston. (Those medals are being mailed to runners.) I think Jimmy Johnson thanked Jody and me each at least a million times for putting on the run. The heartfelt sentiments of Patricia and Heather touched me deeply.

Patricia said at one point, “I really needed this. I needed to SEE everyone.”

It wasn’t until that moment that I realized some of these folks haven’t seen each other since returning from Boston. Then last night as I read Heather’s blog, I was completely humbled and brought to tears by the understanding that in some way I had been a part of something that provided a way to help her to heal from the events she had experienced in Boston. Wow!

Koach told me yesterday that a person doesn’t have to run Boston to promote running and that he was proud of Jody and me for stepping up. Again, wow! Even though I still consider myself to be a newbie runner, I have already made innumerable friendships that seem like they’ve always been there!

“We may all be perfect strangers… But we run, therefore we are friends.” Fb/runlikeagirlbc

Thank you so much for sharing with us, Janet!

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