What Dan Stefanson remembers best from his experience at last year’s Boston Marathon were the spectators that cheered on runners every step of the way.
Following Monday’s bombing at the Boston Marathon finish line, which killed three people and injured about 170 more, Stefanson is devastated.
“It makes me cry every time I think about it.”
Stefanson, the executive director of Tourism Abbotsford, spoke to about 60 runners of all ages who showed up at Mill Lake Park for a “run to remember” on Tuesday evening. Wearing his marathon shirt, he recalled his experience in Boston last year, and the runners paused for a moment of silence in honour of those affected by the bombing, before beginning a trek around the lake.
The event was spearheaded by the Run for Water Society, which stages annual races in Abbotsford and Calgary to raise money for clean water development in Ethiopia.
Phil Klaassen, a Run for Water board member, said they organized the event to join in “the outpouring of support from the running community around the world.
“We felt this was a way we could come together … to say we’re not afraid to gather.”
On Monday at 2:50 p.m. Eastern time, a pair of explosions rocked the finish line area during the 117th running of the Boston Marathon. Three people were killed, and more than 170 were wounded.
Four runners from Abbotsford – including Ryan Prachnau, last year's Run for Water men's marathon winner – were race participants in Boston, and all have been confirmed safe in the wake of the bombings.
"I think we are all in shock," said Michelle Watrin, director of media relations for the Run for Water. "Many of us have run for years and now run with our kids, and it felt like it was taken away from us yesterday. It has always been an innocent and treasured world to us."
Run for Water's Abbotsford event goes on May 26, and organizers are working with local police, fire and medical personnel and others to reassure safety.
"But the Run for Water is more of a movement than an event," Watrin said. "We are doing what we can to make sure the terrorists do not take this activity and event from us or our children. We work to bring justice to the people in Ethiopia, and we will use the same tenacity to make sure our event is as secure as possible."