To Boston, from Tallahassee, With Love

Dear Boston,

On Sunday afternoon at 5 pm, more than 1,000 of us gathered from near and far in Tallahassee, Florida to run the last 5.2 miles of the 2013 Boston Marathon.

We came from Tampa, Orlando, and Georgia to run the last miles that terrorists robbed from so many of your 2013 marathon runners last week. We ran to show you that we — a strong community of runners, triathletes, and caring people — have you in our hearts even from so many miles away.

We ran to raise money for the bombing victims and their families, knowing that the road ahead for them is filled with such sorrow, hardship, and difficulty.

We ran to remind the world that we refuse to be terrorized, that we WILL KEEP RUNNING.

We pulled it together in a matter of days, thanks to help from so many city officials, friends, law enforcement officers, local businesses, and more.

With this one event, we reminded each other — and the world — that kindness and generosity are stronger than evil and hatred.

It started with a text the night of the Boston Marathon bombings from my friend Michael: “What about a Badass Fitness ‘finish the marathon’ event? Maybe a fundraiser?”

My immediate reply: “YES. This Sunday afternoon. What ab ‘5.2 miles at 5 for Boston?'”

Mike’s reply: “Yeah yeah.”

Within 36 hours, the event that we thought might draw 40-50 runners was poised to draw a few hundred. Every hour, the Facebook event RSVP list grew — and Mike, Badass Fitness VP Chris Turner, and I scurried with the growing list of logistics. CBS Radio and ABC News out of New York called. Runner’s World emailed to say they would be sending a photographer. The Associated Press put a story out on their wire.

The RSVP list kept growing. The three of us kept planning and trying to keep up.

Suddenly, we were dealing with a new (larger) venue, liability insurance, city and state permitting, port-a-potties, and more. We stressed out. We didn’t sleep much. We breathed a huge sigh of relief when, with 13 minutes to spare before close of business Friday, our city permit came through (thanks to the amazing police department team!).

And you know what, Boston? Every minute of worry and stress was worth it. Because Sunday, we got well over 1,000 runners, joggers and walkers plus many more spectators. A few of the local runners who ran the Boston Marathon on April 15 came out and ran with us (pictured at right and below), standing at the head of the start line as we sang the National Anthem and Sweet Caroline.

All of these people donated cash and checks and bought reams of raffle tickets for the prizes donated by more than three dozen local businesses. By the end of the race, we counted more than $12,000, and donations are still coming in. 

As runners crossed the finish line, many of them holding hands and beaming, they embodied what the finish line of a race is supposed to be. Happy, elated, FREE.

I am so very sorry that horrible people took the finish line joy from your city last week. But I am writing to you today, on behalf of Tallahassee, to let you know that we ran “5.2 at 5 for Boston” on Sunday, April 21, 2103 in your honor. We crossed the finish line shouting, “For Boston!”

And we are sending you every penny, through the American Red Cross in Boston, that we raised. It will never erase what happened, we know. But it is something.

You are miles away, but you are in our hearts, Boston.

With Love,

Tallahassee, Florida



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5 Responses

  1. Lucie says:

    Dear Shannon and all the organizers and runners/walkers – you are just AMAZING. This post gave me goosebumps and tears, it is so wonderful to see and read that the good outweighs the bad: I am here in tiny Switzerland but I am sending you all of my admiration. Wonderful, well done!!

  2. Mason says:

    Truly great and inspirational post Shannon. An awesome reminder of America’s unbreakable and indomitable spirit! Thank you.

  3. Tasha Watkins says:

    This made me tear up reading this!! I am so proud to have been a part of this event. I can’t even imagine how you and your staff pulled this off. You guys are amazing!! Thank you so much!

  4. […] To hear the details of how three individuals who had never directed a race before put one on in less than a week, read this post. […]

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