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St. Pete runners unite for Boston Marathon anniversary

Christina Noordstar

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Bay area runners, including members of the St. Pete Forerunners club are in Boston for today's 127th Boston Marathon. Photos provided.

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Today, Patriots’ Day, marks the 127th Boston Marathon – it also the 10-year anniversary of the Boston bombings tragedy. This year, 17 St Petersburg runners have united to run the Boston Marathon as a part of the dream to participate in the world’s most popular marathon, and to once again honor being a part of Boston Strong. The Boston Strong initiative was created as a slogan of resilience in the face of the Boston bombings tragedy, and has ever since increased the depth and spirit of the Boston Marathon. “Once you step into a marathon weekend in Boston you will be overpowered by the emotion and electricity that it provides,” says Stephanie Dyer, a 16-time Boston Marathon finisher and St Pete local. “There is an renewed sense of not just being a runner but being a part of something even more purposeful.”

Why is the Boston marathon so famous, you ask? Boston is one of the most prestigious marathons in the entire world, and confirmed as America’s oldest annual sporting event. It not only hosts the fastest international professional marathoners, but also the fastest amateur elites, to the age group-qualified runners that had to prove their pace in a marathon held in the prior year. Boston is also known for the stories it holds of the very involved spectators, a count of 500,000 screaming, dancing and partying people that will cheer runners on the entire 26.2 miles into the city.

Today, the spectators will delight the 30,000 runners that will be released to its streets to the finish line at Boylston. Among those runners will be the fastest marathoner in history, Eliud Kipchoge. 

This race weekend included additional remembrance events – One Boston Day – to honor those affected by the tragedy a decade ago. The intent of this day, along with Boston Strong, is to bond communities through acts of kindness and community service.

From left: Runners Stephanie Dyer, Jonathan Dunford and Anne Roberts.

Runners never ran from this race in fear; they flood to the registration day in sell-out levels, hoping to return time and time again. Two of our area runners who were racing when the bombs went off on April 15, 2013 will be back on the course again today. Jonathan Dunford, a beloved St. Pete runner who has completed 25 consecutive Boston Marathons, will tell you that he looks forward to return every year to honor the race and the city. Fellow local runner Anne Roberts had also just finished the race in 2013 and was being draped in the infamous finishers’ silver cape when she heard the explosions, 14 seconds apart. What occurred after the high of finishing a marathon quickly became a blur of panic and a war-like feeling. “That was my first Boston Marathon ever, and I have never stopped going back since,” Anne says. Today, then, will be her 10th consecutive Boston Marathon.

Today we honor those that run for more than just a marathon, but for the symbolism of what the marathon can bring into one’s life, for the resilience and standing strong as a community. Join in and share the message by simply doing an act of kindness in your community today.

Christina Noordstar is a St. Petersburg entrepreneur, community developer and running enthusiast.

 

Participating St. Pete Runners and number of Boston Marathons completed, as of today:

Stephanie Dyer – 16 

Claudia Junqueria – 4

Kerri Dienhart – 7

Jonathan Dunford – 26

Monica Kile – 3

Lou Kneeshaw – 11

Mary Margaret Gupta – 3

Christina Noordstar – 7

Diana Palacios – 2

Anne Roberts – 10

Elizabeth Samuelson – 8

Gary Saxton – 9

Walt Sieg – 18

Dawna Stone – CEO Abbot World Marathon Majors

Steve Wilcox – 5

Zeina Abdo – 1

Kristen Danielson – 2

Meg Cassell 

The “St. Pete Forerunners” are coached by Joe Burgasser – 32 Boston Marathons.

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