LA GRANGE – About 300 people assembled outside a running store in downtown La Grange Monday evening, to run for the Boston Marathon runners who were forced to stop.
They arrived outside The Runner’s Soul, 5 S. La Grange Ave., and crossed the street into the evening light, before taking off on a 2.62-mile run through the village’s streets in honor of the victims of the 26.2-mile Boston Marathon, which was cut short April 15 after two bombs exploded near the finish line that killed three and injured more than 200.
A handful of the runners wore yellow and blue shirts from the Boston race. One of them was Charles Wiegand, a manager at The Runner’s Soul, who finished this year’s marathon a half-hour before the bombs exploded. He was in the subway with his girlfriend when they did.
“As runners we’re used to our resolve being tested,” Wiegand said to the crowd via a microphone before the run. “This has taken it to another level.”
Outside the store, volunteers sold almost 250 gray Runners for Boston t-shirts. Proceeds will go to One Fund Boston, formed after the bombings to help the people most affected. By the time the run began, the store had sold out of shirts.
La Grange Police put together escorts for the run at the last minute, Wiegand said. Many of the vehicles the runners did encounter pulled to the side of the road to make way.
Similar “solidarity runs” were held across the country. About 300 runners participated in the event at The Runner’s Soul location in Elmhurst, and more than 50 showed up at The Competitive Foot in Western Springs.
Elaine Smith, a Lyons Township High School junior, held a camera to photograph a dozen of her teammates on the LT cross country team who participated in the run. Some of them ran in a meet earlier in the day. The others had already run seven miles for practice.
“We just all came out to show support for the people of the marathon,” Smith said.
Wiegand, the store's manager, was so busy helping to organize the run that he didn't seem to have time to change out of his jeans, which he ran in along with his yellow Boston Marathon shirt.
This year was Wiegand’s fifth time running the marathon. He plans to be there again next year.
"For me, I'm more motivated than ever to qualify again,” he said. “I want to run down Boylston [Street in Boston] again. But I want to be like the first in line to do it just to show that we're going to keep on doing it. We're not going to be afraid to continue to have these type of events."