By Brittany Jackett
Less than two weeks after the incredibly tragic events that unfolded at the Boston Marathon, I stood at the inaugural Nike Women's DC Half Marathon, watching in awe as over 15,000 women (and a few very lucky men) took to the start line. It was the epitome of the perfect morning for a run; the sun was rising, the air crisp and clean and just the right amount of cool - my feet were screaming at me to jump the coral and join in on the fun.
Looking around at the sea of eager, freshly-stretched and ready to run racers, I would never have imagined that just 13 days prior, in an eerily similar setting, explosions and evil could destroy such an inspiring scene.
Within a few seconds I was able to spot a number of women in the Fleet Feet Sports training group, decked out in their vibrant yellow "We Run This Town" shirts. Just two and a half short months ago, many of these women were only able to complete 4-6 miles - doubling, or even tripling, that distance seemed daunting and nearly impossible for most.
But each week these women ran. They ran in cold, they ran in rain, they ran the often-dreaded track and they ran steep, unforgiving hills. Some days were easier than others, and through the struggle some very powerful bonds emerged. Although these women were all running for a plethora of reasons - some to lose weight, others just to cross that finish line and claim their Tiffany's & Co. necklace - they all shared one common thread. They were runners. And each time they went out on a training run they encouraged and supported each other. When another step, let alone another few miles, seemed impossible they were there for each other.
And this group of women, as they took to the streets of DC, were a reminder to me that runners (no matter how fast or how slow) are just plain awesome.
As the race began, I watched as a sea of awesome runners flooded Pennsylvania Avenue covered in ribbons and shirts proudly declaring their support and love for Boston. It truly was a powerful sight to see.
All of the members of the training group crossed the finish line later that morning. No world records were set, no blazing fast mile times were recorded, but each person that crossed the line showed that in the midst of evil the incredible awesomeness of humanity comes out in full force.
There's a saying that you're only as strong as your weakest link, and clearly the running community has no weak links. Sunday's Nike Women's Marathon was a bold testament to good overcoming evil. Races will continue. Events will sell out. And people will take to the streets and trails, come wind, rain, snow and sun, and they will run.
In the days since the Boston Marathon, members of the running community from across the nation have banded together. Running stores have joined forces and launched a "Runners for Boston" t-shirt campaign with 100% of the proceeds from the $20 shirts going to the One Fund Boston.