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Chicagoans Plan 'Unity Run' After Boston Marathon Bombings

By Quinn Ford | April 16, 2013 11:39am
 Runners near Ohio Street Beach Tuesday morning said the bombings at the Boston Marathon would not deter them from running marathons.
Runners near Ohio Street Beach Tuesday morning said the bombings at the Boston Marathon would not deter them from running marathons.
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DNAinfo/Quinn Ford

CHICAGO — The day after two explosions at the Boston Marathon left three dead and more than 100 wounded, Chicago runners said they will not let what happened deter them from the sport.

Wendy Jaehn, executive director of the Chicago Area Runners Association, said the group will host a "unity run" at 6 p.m. Tuesday starting at Foster Avenue Beach.

Jaehn said the unity run will give runners the chance to begin to "work through" what happened.

"It all affects us in different ways, but it still affects everybody deeply, and this is a good way to connect and help start the healing process," Jaehn said Tuesday morning. "Whether you're in Boston, knew anybody there, or not, this has had a huge impact on our sport."

Jaehn ran the Boston Marathon on Monday and had finished about an hour before the explosions. She said she and others from CARA have been "working around the clock" to ensure all the Chicago runners are safe after the attack.

Jaehn said about 100 people from her group and many more from other Chicago organizations were at the race.

"We've accounted for just about everybody," Jaehn said, adding they have not heard back from a few people but believe everyone is OK.

Tuesday morning, Chicago's lakefront was filled with runners.

And many said though the attacks were awful, they would not let the actions of "sick, evil people" stop them from running.

"I think that if anything, everyone I know is going out for a run," Jeannie Wang said as she took a break from her run at the Ohio Street Beach Downtown.

Wang said she is a member of Team World Vision, an organization of marathon runners who run for charity. She said she knew about five people running the Boston Marathon, including one of her team members, who finished just minutes before the explosions.

Wang, of Logan Square, said everyone she knew at the race is OK, but she said the attack was "definitely jarring" to her and other runners.

She said she is praying for the injured spectators and their families because anyone who has run a major marathon like those in Boston or Chicago knows millions of people come out to watch.

"You don't know all of them, but they're part of the reason you finish," Wang said.

Joe Renz, of Streeterville, said for him the bombings are another reminder that the world is not as safe as it once was.

"I'm running in the Chicago Marathon for the first time this year, so it's a little bit of disturbing news that these things can happen," Renz said.

Renz said he expects the attacks will mean increased security at major marathons from now on, but he said people will adjust just like they did to increased security at airports after 9/11.

And like Wang, Renz said the attack would not scare him away from running, and he does not expect it to affect others either.

"It's part of the American spirit, so to speak," Renz said.

Another runner, Taylor Pruett, agreed.

"I think that when something really awful like this happens, we can't go run and hide," Pruett said.

Pruett, of the Gold Coast, said she "can barely run three miles" and was not planning on running a marathon anytime soon, but echoed the sentiment that Americans will not let what happened in Boston change their daily lives.

As far as what effects the attack may have on the Chicago Marathon, Wendy Jaehn said Tuesday she spoke with the event's organizers.  Jaehn said she believes they will review existing plans but said the city's marathon already has "top-notch security that's long been in place."

"It's hard to surpass what they already do," Jaehn said.