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April 21. 2013 1:12AM

Andy Schachat's On the Run: Relentless runners send a message


 
It didn't take long after the bombing of the Boston Marathon for the running community to issue its response. The message was loud, and it was strong.

In case you missed it, anyone else who would attempt to shut down our sport's most iconic event or get in the way of doing what we love to do, here it is again:

We will not be stopped.

We are runners, constantly moving forward, leaving behind where we were to get where we want to go. It's what we do, day after day, week after week, month after month, and many of us have been doing it for decades.

Sure, you slowed temporarily, but shut us down? We run when temperatures drop to single digits in the winter and when they climb to the 90's in the summer. Pouring rain? That only cools us down so we can run some more.

Do you have any idea how tough we are? Watch us bust our guts at a track workout as we do 400-meter repeats, go home and rest, then come back the next day for a thigh-burning hill workout. And if conditions prevent us from running outdoors, we jump on a treadmill and keep on running.

We will not be stopped.

Yes, you brought the Boston Marathon to a halt, but don't kid yourselves. All you did is stop a few thousand runners from running a few miles. By sundown that night, there were 10 times that many who had hit the streets for a run, and get this: They did that to show solidarity with the Boston Marathon runners and support for those who support us. By breakfast the next day, there probably were 100 times the typical number of runners on the streets, trails and paths of America.

Maybe you knew you couldn't stop each of us from our daily runs so you targeted our road races. Well, guess what: The night after the Marathon, there were more than 300 runners at a road race in Lowell, Mass., a city less than 40 minutes from Boston.

This weekend alone, I will be announcing at three road races in New Hampshire, one of the smallest states in the U.S. Multiply that by rest of the country, and you get the picture. Moreover, since Monday, countless non-competitive group runs have take place to honor the victims at Boston.

We will not be stopped.

I know what you're thinking: You showed us that there are forces out there beyond our control.

Been there, done that. We have dealt with unexpected injuries to parts of our body we never knew existed before we started running. Can you even spell "plantar fasciitis"? How about "meniscus," the part of the knee just about every veteran runner among us has torn at one time or another? We didn't know those injuries were coming, but we dealt with them. We took time off, healed up, resumed running. In fact, we came back more determined than ever.

We will not be stopped.

You have to know this is no fad. As a group, we've been at this for more than a century, and if you look at our race results, you'll see we are not slowing down - literally or figuratively. And see all those kids lining up at the start line? They're the next generation. Long after Monday's marathoners are gone, those kids will be running races, probably in greater numbers than the big fields we're seeing now. They will bring their kids along, and those kids will become runners who eventually have kids of their own.

We will not be stopped.

The cowards who killed three people and injured more than 100 more - some severely - caused incalculable grief but they achieved nothing. We've shed blood, and we've shed tears, but our resolve is stronger than ever.

Within seconds of Monday's explosions, runners sprang into action to help one another and those who had come to support them. We aided each other, comforted each other, and then we did what runners do. We grabbed our running shoes, headed for the door, and we ran.

Since Monday afternoon, we've done training runs, fun runs and road races. Individuals, small groups, large groups, very large groups - we've been running to make sure our message is heard and understood.

We will not be stopped.




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RUNNING SHORTS: Next Sunday marks the second running of a special event, the Chief Maloney Unity Run. Covering the 5.6 miles between the Portsmouth and Greenland police departments, the event is in memory of Michael Maloney, the Greenland chief killed in the line of duty last April, and in honor of all of New Hampshire's first responders ... In closing this special edition of my column, please indulge me one more personal comment about the Boston Marathon. Knowing that race-announcing partner Steve Moland and I were near the finish line, many of you reached to check on our safety and offer support. Words can not describe how grateful we are.



Andy Shachat's column regularly appears every other week in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at schachat44@gmail.com.

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