Running unites us and brings us together because, in the words of the great Bill Rodgers, “We sweat the same. We struggle the same.” Running is a simple, primitive act, and therein lays its power. For it is one of the few commonalities left between us as a human race.” – Dean Karnazes, Why Running Matters
Running and walking on the Arkansas River Trail is a usual occurrence for a central Arkansan. Big Dam Bridge Twilight 5k, Little Rock Marathon, and Rock Run 8k are a few races that utilize the trail. However, during the evening of Monday, April 22, 2013, people gathered for a different purpose.
It was not to satisfy a training schedule, take a leisurely walk for exercise, or to prepare for an upcoming race. The community gathered to pay tribute to others. We gathered to remember Boston. We gathered to be strong—Boston Strong.
#BostonStrong was an idea created by Brian Kelly. Most know him as the blogger Pavement Runner. He felt the need to bring us all together. What better way to do this than by running and walking together? A week after the 117th Boston Marathon, he wanted cities to band together by coordinating events. Each event would be prefaced with #BostonStrong, followed by the name of the city. In our case, it was #BostonStrongLR.
It was an early Wednesday morning, less than 48 hours after the turmoil in Boston, when Heather Iacobacci-Miller charged the community with the idea. She posted it in a Facebook group. Jesse Garrett suggested a Facebook event be created to disburse information. Now, there was a place for everyone to congregate. Shortly thereafter, an idea of shirts displaying our support came into being. Within five days word spread and #BostonStrongLR was going to happen. The power of social media is astounding.
This was a commUNITY event. What happened in Boston not only affected them, but the shock resonated through our community, too. It was an attack on our sport, our brothers and sisters. Running clubs, groups, and organizations came together to stand as one. Above all, runners endure.
Jesse delivered a moving impromptu speech that I couldn’t tarnish by recording. I wanted to listen and appreciate it. During that time everyone in attendance shared one heart. He made clear this was not to be a somber event, but a celebration. To paraphrase his words we were to untether ourselves from fancy watches and timing devices and enjoy each other’s company. Years from now it won’t be the data we remember, but that we were doing this for Boston.
If you were a runner or walker in the area, this was an event you wanted to attend. Some couldn’t make it because of prior obligations and work, but we felt them there. Many donated virtually to send their support. Cyclists stopped by to run a few miles; although I’m sure they would’ve preferred having two wheels underneath them. Jeremy Lewno, Bobby’s Bike Hike, rode his bike from downtown, ran with the group, and rode back.
Nearly 200 runners and walkers participated. Over $2,000 was raised for the One Fund, which benefits families most affected by what happened at the Boston Marathon. At the time of this writing, over $26 million had been raised for the One Fund. Wow!
THV11’s Max Seigle covered the event. In his story, there are interviews with people in attendance as well as the sights and sounds of #BostonStrongLR.
Thanks to everyone that had anything to do with helping this idea come to fruition. We have a special community in central Arkansas. I’m positive this is true for other cities across the nation. Continue to be strong—Boston Strong!