PORTLAND -- Thousands of runners filled the streets of Portland and Vancouver Wednesday night to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon attack.
Some of the participants said the run wasn’t about the cardio; this time it was about catharsis.
Runners tend to be an exuberant group, so when a couple thousand of them are brought to silence, it seems especially poignant.
The crowd gathered along the Portland waterfront and paid respects to the victims killed or injured in Boston this week. For some, the ones wearing the bright yellow Boston Marathon jerseys, the trauma is much closer than a faraway city, some of the fear came home with them.
“I can’t believe I was actually there when all of that terrible stuff happened,” said Joe Murphy, who was in a hotel lobby near the explosions. “I was about a half-mile from the finish line.”
Craig Kiest said he remembers fellow runners who dropped everything to pray.
“You definitely think you missed a bullet,” he said. “I’m not going to let it stop me.”
Because he didn't get to the finish line in Boston Monday, Kiest said he was running Wednesday night to get back that last little stretch. He and thousands of others followed the flag held by Zach Wiens, who put out the word on Facebook.
“We were thinking maybe 40 or 50 people” would respond, Wiens said. “It' s beyond our expectations”
Runners crossed the Willamette on a 3-mile course to pay tribute to people 3,000 miles away. Across the Columbia, a similar spirit shone in Vancouver.
If the attack in Boston was supposed to frighten runners, it worked. But the crowd Wednesday night proved that being scared is very different than being scared. And that’s why they gathered to run again.
“I’m going back next year and I’m going to run again,” Kiest said. “And this time I’m going to finish.”