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Boston bombings can’t shake runners’ enthusiasm for the sport

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Washington area's running community was shaken by Monday's deadly bombings at the finish of the Boston Marathon, but club organizers said the attacks would not put a permanent dent in the sport they love.

John Brathwaite, director of sponsorship and events at the D.C. Running Club, said he was optimistic that runners will not only recover from the chilling event but come back more passionate than ever.

"Runners run for causes and they are very resilient, so, if anything, it's going to increase their passion and make them run even harder," Mr. Brathwaite said.

But Kit Wells, a member of the board of directors for the Washington Running Club, was not as optimistic.

He said it's "entirely conceivable" that registration numbers will drop, and that Monday's events might keep people from traveling far to races. He said he believes charities and organizers will be apprehensive about hosting large races in which runners could be in danger.

"I think it will be a decrease in registration. It might not be as fashionable for charities to encourage a lot of people to participate in big-city marathons." he said.

The Boston bombings, which killed three and wounded more than 175, have organizers in cities around the world pondering the future of such races giant public gatherings stretching for miles where crowd control and absolute security are impossible to guarantee.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that organizers of the Pittsburgh Marathon were reviewing preparations for the May 5 race, enhancing security and disaster-response plans. The event is expected to draw up to 28,000 runners and 50,000 spectators.

While the Boston bombings might raise anxiety for runners, Road Runners Club of America Executive Director Jean Knaack said competitors should continue to run in any races they have planned and that the attack in Boston could have happened at any large event.

"I've thought a lot about the events over the past couple of hours and, from a running community perspective, this could have happened at any high-profile sporting event," she said. "The reality is that they just happened to pick running."

From the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series to the Marine Corps Marathon, the District hosts its share of races and is home to one of the nation's most active running communities.

The D.C. Running Club plans to launch a virtual race for the victims in the Boston bombings featuring an online registration fee that will go directly to the victims and families of victims injured at Monday's race.

Participants will run the race anywhere from their treadmill to their local community park, then log the miles they ran online and receive a D.C. Running Club T-shirt that reads: Boston we ran for you and never stop running.

They held a similar event for New York to raise money for the Hurricane Sandy victims, sending blankets and materials to help those who were in need.

"We hope to launch that this weekend and keep it going for three weeks," Mr. Wells said. "If you stop racing because of these recent events, then the terrorists win."

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