2,200 run in Londonderry to support Boston
LONDONDERRY - Forty miles north of Boston, hundreds of area runners converged on Stonyfield Farms Saturday morning to support people affected by the Boston Marathon bombings, wearing blue and yellow ribbons and American flags.
This year's Earth Day 5K was one for the record books, with 2,200 participants - 1,000 more runners than last year's race - making their way down Burton Drive.
Runners sported a blue and yellow ribbon pinned to their jerseys to recognize the Boston victims.
Some runners took that sentiment a bit further by pinning full-sized American flags to their clothing, while others wore messages of support for the nearby city, or gear from their favorite Boston sports teams.
Stonyfield Farms marketing coordinator Fil Kovisars said the event, now in its third year, has grown tremendously in popularity since its beginning.
"In 2011, we had 700 runners," Kovisars said.
Sportscaster and Union Leader columnist Andy Schachat offered some words of remembrance at the start of Saturday's race, thanking the runners for lending their presence.
"Your presence here signifies the energy and spirit of the New England running community," Schachat told them, leading the crowd in a prayer to honor and remember all affected by the Boston Marathon tragedy followed by a moment of silence.
According to company officials, around 1,800 runners were anticipated to run in the race prior to the tragedy in Boston on Monday, but in the days to follow there was a surge of runner registrations, including many running the race for the first time.
Among the first-time runners was Goffstown resident Tara Bergin, who joined her friend Dena Demers, a more seasoned runner from Manchester.
Bergin said she and Demers had planned on decorating T-shirts for Earth Day when they registered for the race last month, but after the terrorist events, they decided instead to pay homage to Boston.
Wearing white T-shirts painted with the words "Prayers for Boston," Demers and Bergin said it was "something we could do to show we care."
"The running community is very strong. And we are Boston strong," Demers said, noting she wasn't a bit surprised by the record turnout of Saturday's race.
"I think there's a lot of us here who simply want to lend their support," she added.
Manchester resident Kerry Lorrey said she registered for the race back in January and admitted she had some initial concerns about safety in the days leading up to Saturday's race.
Excitement to run her first 5K won out over fear, and as she prepared to line up at the starting gate Saturday morning, Lorrey said she had no regrets.
"It's nice to see so many people here today," she said.
Vermont residents Pat and Sasha Edwards both wore signs reading: "We are all Marathoners at Heart" pinned to their racing shirts.
The pair said the signs were part of a movement in their home state started by a Boston Marathon runner who didn't get the chance to complete his race last week.
"It definitely hit home for both us," said Sasha Edwards. "We're both in the medical profession and we have many, many friends who were in Boston that day."