Runners gather in solidarity with Boston

Nearly 80 runners take off for an afternoon 4-mile run at the Huntington Beach Pier with "Runners United to Remember" bibs attached to honor of those affected by the Boston Marathon bombings last week.
(DON LEACH, HB Independent)

In an act of solidarity, about 80 runners from Huntington Beach and Orange County gathered Monday at the Huntington Beach Pier in a run for Boston.

Wearing running bibs with the date of the attack and the Boston skyline underneath, participants ran for about 15 minutes away of the pier and another 15 minutes toward it.

“The way that the running community has come together just speaks volumes to how strong everyone is,” participant Brian Cook said. “Runners are determined and strong and we’re going to come back and run again and we’re going to run Boston again.”

Cook, a 37-year-old Huntington Beach resident, ran in this year’s Boston Marathon on April 15. He said he was unaware of what had happened until he started receiving phone calls from family and friends.

“I finished about an hour and a half prior [to the bombs exploding], so I was already back in my hotel,” he said, adding that the hotel was about a mile away from the area of the attacks. “Honestly, we were in party mode. We were just waiting for a friend of ours to show up. Then we got a phone call and we thought it was a joke.”

It was Cook’s first time running the prestigious marathon, but he said it wouldn’t be his last.

“It’s pretty difficult to get into,” he said. “It took a lot of effort to get there, and I’m pleased to say that I’m going to be back next year. [The attacks] are not going to stop us.”

Monday’s event was coordinated by Huntington Beach running blogger Tiffany Henness, who said she needed to do something to support those affected by the bombings.

She got the idea from a friend that blogs in San Francisco, who decided to invite runners from the Bay Area to run for those in Boston.

“We wanted to embrace our running community,” Henness said. “You can go for a run alone, but it’s not the same as running alongside your friends and other runners and feeling that camaraderie.”

Henness created a Facebook event page on April 17, initially inviting about 20 or so friends, she said. And once word spread, a snowball effect of friends inviting other friends occurred.

What started off as 20 grew into more than 80 runners by the time of the event, Henness said.

Among the participants was 22-year-old Erick Lopez, a firefighter in training at Santa Ana College. He said the bombings hit close to home, as he understands what Boston firefighters had to go through.

“When I saw the news about Boston, it touched me,” he said. “I had a full day with my friends just talking about what happened, what we would do, what would we tell our families if we were to work there.”

Huntington Beach resident Ryan Rodriguez, a marathoner himself, said the tragedy won’t let it damper his joy of running.

“As runners, we really need to come together and keep running,” he said. “Because if you don’t, then the terrorists win.”