Boston’s next major road race — a longstanding half-marathon on Memorial Day weekend — will go on as scheduled, and more than 600 runners have signed up since the Marathon bombings in a dramatic show of support, organizers say.
“The mayor made it clear he doesn’t want events canceling. He wants to show that Boston is strong and moving forward,” said Steve Balfour, an organizer for Boston’s Run to Remember, noting that the 13-mile course will run through the Seaport District and downtown Boston but not near the Marathon finish line.
He said the race is attracting many Marathon runners who were prevented from finishing because of the bombings. They see the Run to Remember, a tribute race for Massachusetts law enforcement officials killed in the line of duty, as a way to fulfill their mission.
Given Monday’s events, the race name itself is sure to take on further meaning for participants and spectators. Balfour said organizers will make a significant effort to honor the heroism of first responders, as well as those who were killed and injured by the blasts.
Meanwhile, several other “freedom” runs, including an informal redo of the Boston Marathon starting in Hopkinton at 10 a.m. on Sunday, are quickly being organized in nearby municipalities for runners who want to show solidarity in the face of the tragedy.
The Run to Remember half-
marathon was started by the Boston Police Runner’s Club nine years ago. The Alzheimer’s Association, Massachusetts/New Hampshire Chapter, is also a major sponsor, with teams of runners entering the race to honor loved ones affected by the disease.”
By Thursday, 7,280 runners had signed up for the May 26 event, which is on pace to be the largest yet held. Registrants can choose to run just a 5-mile portion of the race.
“The amazing thing was that in the first 48 hours after the blasts, there was a spike in registration of over 600 people,” Balfour said. “Normally, it would be about 135 to 140 registrations during that time.”
While additional security measures will be in place, Balfour said could not say what they will be.
“As you can imagine, with our board of directors all being Boston police, discussions about our race certainly pale to the here and now of the emergency that’s now going on in the city,” said Balfour, who is the Alzheimer’s Association’s special events director and the only nonpolice race director. “We can get back to that discussion next week.”
Elsewhere, from college campuses to downtown Boston, runners are gathering in groups to show support for Boston and New England.
Thousands of runners are hoping to assemble in Kenmore Square on Saturday afternoon at 2:30 to finish the last mile of the race for those who couldn’t; others are meeting in Kendall Square at 10 a.m. for a “We Run for Boston” jog along the Charles River.
Ashley Pilipiszyn, 22, who works at Marathon Sports in Cambridge, said she’ll be joining more than 800 runners Sunday at the Marathon’s starting line in Hopkinton to run all 26.2 miles in a grass-roots event dubbed Boston Marathon Redux.
“I think the most important thing is that Boston is not going to stop running,” Pilipiszyn said, adding that the race will finish as close as possible to Boylston Street, much of which is an off-limits crime scene.
“You can’t take running out of a person. You can’t take running out of a community. We’ll have our Boston Marathon. We’ll have it this Sunday. We’ll have it next year. We’ll have it every week if we want to. This isn’t going to stop us.”