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Chicago Runners Rise Up After Boston

By Paul Biasco | April 26, 2013 7:57am

OLD TOWN — A week after finishing the Boston Marathon, Marne Smiley was in Old Town's Fleet Feet sports buying a fundraising T-shirt for her masseuse, who had the task of getting her legs ready for another 26.2-mile run this weekend.

Smiley, 30, is one of about 400 runners nationwide who ran in Boston and also will race in the Big Sur Marathon this weekend in Monterey, Calif.

"Last week was just a little emotional, so I'm a little run down from it," said Smiley, of Lincoln Park. "I think it will probably be emotional once we get there. Everyone will kind of have their stories."

Before the tragic bombing on April 15, Smiley considered her first "Boston" a notch off her checklist.

"I didn't sign up for Boston thinking it was going to be this thing I planned on doing again," she said. "Now I definitely want to go back."

That sentiment was felt by many Chicago runners who met for their annual "Boston Bound" celebration Wednesday night. Fleet Feet's Boston Bound program organizes group workouts and training for Chicago athletes heading to Boston. Eighty-six runners were a part of the group this year.

"It's still sort of sinking in," said Sascha Edge, who in his fifth marathon ran his personal record during his first Boston last week. "We all have a special bond now. It's not going to stop us from running again."

The Boston Bound Program was led by 19-race veteran Dan Daly of Logan Square.

"As a runner and someone who loves Boston, the initial reaction was 'What's going to happen with marathons?'" Daly said.

That question quickly subsided over a matter of days as Daly repeatedly heard runners who said "humanity won't get beat down by this."

"It makes me even more glad to be a part of that community," he said. "When you are a runner you run with people and really don't have any clue what their background is. It's really a leveling playing field in terms of humanity."

The running community, which has always been tight-knit, has come together like never before in the wake of the tragedy, said Dave Zimmer, who owns the Old Town and Lincoln Square Fleet Feet locations.

Zimmer fronted the money to buy 1,000 "Runners for Boston" T-shirts that arrived at his two locations earlier this week and sold out in about 30 hours. He placed a second shipment of 150 more shirts, which he expected to sell out of by Thursday night at $20 a pop, raising a total of $23,000 for One Fund Boston.

Humboldt Park resident James Rudyk isn't a runner, but bought a shirt anyway. The 25-year-old even bought a shirt one size too big, because the store had run out of mediums.

"I felt like it was the least I could do," he said.

Buying the shirts was an afterthought for Zimmer, considering the Boston Marathon was the inspiration for opening his first store.

"If it wasn’t for the Boston Marathon and the emotion that I had as a young runner in that race, I wouldn’t be doing for a living that I’m doing right now," Zimmer said. "That event in 1996 is the day that I decided I was absolutely going to be opening the store."