Dozens of runners from the Fayetteville area gathered Sunday morning in downtown for a run in response to the recent bombings at the Boston Marathon. Individuals, groups of friends, and members of local running groups started and ended the run at the Market House in the center of downtown.
For Marsha Kouba the run was especially personal. She ran in this year's Boston Marathon.
"My niece and I crossed the finish line on their clock at 4:07, and the bombs went off at 4:09. So we were at the finish line when the bombs went off," Kouba said. "I thought my niece and I were going to die."
She said she called her husband, and he asked about their daughter who had been watching in the crowd. Kouba said this year was her 9th Boston Marathon, and their daughter Jessica would normally be on Boylston Street watching the finish.
"I told him I didn't know where she was," Kouba recalled. "He said, 'I'll call Jessica, and I'll try to find her if you just run.'"
It turns out their daughter was fine. She had been watching along another part of the race route and got delayed on the Subway while trying to make it to the area of the finish line.
Kouba says she wanted to run Sunday morning to take back the freedom of the roads.
"The people who did this took away all the innocence of congregating on a road, of finishing a race, of doing something fun," Kouba said. "It could be a parade. It could be a race. It could be anything where we congregate, and they took away that."
The tragedy of the bombings immediately made race organizer Julio Ramirez think of what could be done in response. He immediately thought about a tribute run from downtown.
"What happened in Boston really hit my heart - really bad - and I thought we really had to do something about it," Ramirez said. "I contacted the running clubs in the area, and they all went for it. That's why we're here today."
Ramirez estimates about 200 people came out.
For Tere Chipman, who wore her Boston Marathon jacket from 2010, the goal was simple.
"We wanted to come out and show our support for the victims, and the runners, and the city of Boston," Chipman said. "It's kind of thumbing our nose at terrorist acts. You may make us angry, but you won't make us scared."
Ramirez said he is already planning a more official anniversary run for next year.
Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon.More>>