Marathon attack spurs local runners to action

Apr. 17, 2013 @ 05:02 AM

When two bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon Monday — killing three and wounding more than 140 people — local runners took action.

Members of the Brick City Run Tribe, Lee County’s local running group, honored those killed and injured during their weekly run Tuesday night. They also collected contributions to send to those affected, said club runner Eva Rogers.

“... We are all going to gather wearing blue and yellow, which are the Boston [Marathon] colors,” Rogers said in advance of the gathering. “And have a donation table setup for the victims.”

The running club will also accept donations next week during its meeting, which is scheduled for 6 p.m. April 23 at the Riverbirch Corner shopping center near Rose’s.

Tim Preble, a member of BCRT, said he felt outrage when he heard the news about the attacks on his fellow runners. Preble runs in ultramarathons, or races that are greater than 26 miles in distance.

“I was very angry about it,” he said. “Someone was attacking my brothers and sisters.”

Preble said he had several friends participating in the race, and he was able to reach all of them shortly after the explosions. The attacks, he said, seemed meant for the spectators and families of those finishing the races.

Collecting funds for the cause was just one way the group could help, he said.

“There have to be hundreds of people who are just distraught and in need and have nothing to turn to,” Preble said. “They are stranded, may need clothes and food, and since it’s not in our immediate area and we can’t provide those services, this is the best thing we could do.”

Those who can’t make the April 23 meeting can contact the group via Facebook or by searching for “Brick City Run Tribe Sanford.”

“We are thinking of everyone,” Rogers said. “We wanted to put together a collection from our little group.”

Rogers is set to run in the Marine Corps Marathon this fall and said she’s interested in qualifying for the Boston race in the future.

“I was devastated,” she said. “I watched the elite runners online then shut it down after the winners came in. I had been watching it all morning, and a few hours later, there were the explosions. It was devastating. It didn’t seem real at first.”

According to the official Boston Marathon website, three Sanford runners were set to participate in the race. Gary McNeely, 48, finished at 3:31:02 p.m., prior to the explosion. James Crook, 38, reached the 40K mark at 3:21:47 p.m. and did not register an end time, and William O’Brien, 33, did not register any split times and may not have run. According to friends and family on social media, McNeely finished the race before the explosion and was with his wife at his hotel. Attempts to reach Crook and O’Brien were unsuccessful.

Charlie Storm, owner of Storm Endurance Sports in Tramway, said he was an avid runner during his college years and trained with professional runners who often participated in marathons.

Storm learned about the blasts when his mother called him.

“She said, ‘I saw someone that looked like you,’” Storm said. “‘I know you’re not up there, but I had to hear your voice.’”