Letter from the Executive Director: The Attack on the Boston Marathon Brought the Running Community Together

We all know that good things can emerge from bad—and the reaction from the running community after the attack at the Boston Marathon was no exception. I have never seen such an outpouring of support and positive reaction from such terrible actions.

Although I’ve never run the Boston Marathon or been in Boston during the event, I always feel excited about it from afar. This year, I spent the morning of the Boston Marathon half watching the live feed of the race and half answering emails and other projects that I needed to catch up on. I felt pride when America’s sweethearts of running, Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher, came through the finish line. When the elite race was over I turned off the live feed and switched to checking the splits of the Missoula runners every so often. Once everyone from Run Wild Missoula’s Boston Marathon Training Class had crossed through the finish line I closed my browser and started working on projects that required a little more concentration. The Boston Marathon was over as far as I was concerned and I would personally congratulate the runners from Missoula when they got back and maybe read an article about the elite runners in the newspaper the next day.

About a half hour later I got a call from a TV reporter asking me if I wanted to comment on what happened at the Boston Marathon. At first I was a confused to be asked to comment on an international race, and then my heart sank when she told me about the explosions at the finish area. No one knew what happened, the extent of the violence and injuries or who was responsible or their motivation. I quickly turned to social media and my phone to make sure that the Missoula runners were safe. It was amazing to me how quickly Run Wild Missoula heard from everyone and could feel relieved that at least our local runners were not hurt. It felt good to put others’ minds at ease that day as well.

I still felt disbelief during the days after the attack on Boston. There were so many unknown details. This was obviously an attack that had nothing to do with runners, but they messed with the wrong group of people. Local runners asked us if there was anything they could do. We didn’t know yet, but we wanted to do something—to allow the running community to feel useful, a way to bring everyone together. We also wanted to ease the public as questions about race security at the Missoula Marathon arose.

First, we decided to encourage people to run to feel normalcy and to show the attackers that we won’t stop running because of their actions It’s simple a message and one that doesn’t require much convincing. In fact, we saw a spike in Missoula Marathon registrations during the days following the attack. Some asked if the Missoula Marathon is a Boston Marathon qualifier (which it is), determined to run in Boston next year.

Then something amazing happened. The running community pulled together and in partnership with the Runners Edge and Run Wild Missoula, and with the support of local businesses and organizations, everyone came together to honor the victims at the Boston Marathon and to raise funds for the One Fund Boston, the organization set up by the mayor of Boston and governor of Massachusetts to benefit the victims. In two days, over 850 people registered for the event. In the first three hours of registration, 500 people registered. In total $16,593 was raised for the One Fund Boston.

It will take a long time before we are healed from this tragedy, but my faith in community, and specifically the running community, is heightened. The attackers really did mess with the wrong group of people. No one can stop us from doing what we love. I am inspired more than ever to run and to never take it for granted that I can run. I value every step I take and how free I feel when I’m running my dog Tipson in the North Hills or in the Paxson gym with the elementary kids or during Tuesday Track with the other Run Wild Missoula members.

Run Wild,
Eva Dunn-Froebig

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