On April 15, two pressure cooker-fashioned bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The attack left the city and entire country shaken.
Word of the bombing quickly spread, including “across the pond” in the British county of Devon. Three friends were sitting in a barn when they heard the horrifying news on the radio. Being running enthusiasts themselves, the trio knew they had to do something to show their support for Boston and those whose lives were affected by the event.
Jamie Hay, Danny Bent and Kate Treleaven came up with the idea of One Run for Boston, and are in the process of organizing the event thousands of miles away.
“We wanted to show that runners all over the globe were touched by what happened, and many of us wanted to do more than give a check,” said Bent. “It’s hopefully giving runners (ourselves included) a way to deal with the tragedy of April 15.”
One Run for Boston is the world’s first non-stop running relay that will start in Venice Beach, Calif., today, June 7, and end in Boston on June 30. Hundreds of runners will keep the relay going by passing a specially designed baton with a GPS tracking device between them, as they race across 3,300 miles and 14 states, including Arizona. People can track the race via a live map at www.onerunforboson.org.
Even though Phoenix is not technically on the running route, the Valley will have a presence in the race. Brett Stewart plans to participate in the event and will be running on Sunday, June 9, when the relay is expected to reach Arizona. His run will cover 10 miles from Lake Shore Boulevard to Lake Havasu City.
Stewart was a native New Englander for 37 years before moving to the Valley. His spirit of camaraderie as a runner and close ties to the Boston community served as motivation to join the race.
“Joining One Run for Boston came from a desire to be a part of an event that is so much bigger than just a relay run or race,” said Stewart. “This run signifies the enduring spirit of all runners, bonding together to show our support for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing and demonstrate we will never be defeated by the fear of terrorism.”
Stewart had dozens of friends who ran in the 2013 marathon, and most spent years of hard work qualifying for the world’s oldest and most prestigious annual race. These same friends had family members near the finish line at all times of the day throughout the duration of the marathon, including moments before the blasts.
Stewart recalled his sense of helplessness when it took 45 minutes for one of his best friends to check in after the bombing. While it was fortunate his friends and their families were not physically harmed by the attack, their “moment of jubilation and triumph was shattered along with the collective sense of safety that all runners and spectators normally take for granted at sporting events,” said Stewart.
When asked how this tragedy might affect his own decisions about running future marathons, Stewart responded, “If they re-ran the Boston Marathon TOMORROW, I’d be on a plane to take part. Runners may be a little crazy, but we are fiercely loyal and possess an undeniable spirit to never, ever give up.”
Besides being an avid runner for years, Stewart is also a running coach and fitness author, currently promoting his upcoming release, “7 Weeks to a 10k.” Interestingly enough, Stewart noted that running across the United States also happened to be on his bucket list.
Organizers are reaching out to runners in Arizona. According to Hay, there are voids along the relay course left to fill in Arizona.
“I’m confident the runners and people of Arizona will pull together and fill these stages,” Hay said.
The relay requires an individual to run each section of the race and pass the baton to the runner at the next stage of the race route. Runners do not need to be solely responsible for any stage of this race. Some runners, including Stewart, allow others to join them in showing their support.
According to Hay, the goal is to reach 1,000 runners for the event. Donations collected by participating runners will go into the One Run Boston fund that assists victims and families most seriously affected by the Boston bombing. However, One Run for Boston recently confirmed on its website that donations made by runners who sign up to run in Oklahoma will be donated to the Disaster Relief Fund for those affected by last month’s devastating tornado.
For more information, to make a donation, or to sign up for the One Run for Boston, visit www.onerunforboston.org.
• Jeremy Bush is a senior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He is interning this semester for the AFN.