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Spokane residents create memorial in Riverfront Park

Wed., April 17, 2013

Running shoes to be donated to those in need

Many in Spokane pounded the pavement Tuesday trying to overcome tough emotions spawned by Monday’s bombing at the Boston Marathon.

Nearly 50 runners found comfort together at the “Joy of Running Together” sculpture at Riverfront Park on Tuesday evening, memorializing those injured by two blasts near the marathon’s finish line and the three who died.

Although many are sad, angry and confused by the incident, Flying Irish Running Club organizer Brendan Dowling said, the tragedy will not devalue his love for running – it will strengthen it.

“Running is a comfort … to get over those feelings when you have a bad day,” Dowling said. “A lot of us feel like that was taken away from us.”

The scramble to get runners together was an effort to overcome the grief the running community was feeling both for bombing victims and those who were unable to finish the race as the bombs hit.

“For the next race, I’m definitely going to be looking over my shoulder a little bit,” Dowling said. “You can’t really let it bother you too much – you just have to get out there and run.”

Dowling said the bombs hit their community hard and the run was about healing.

“We weren’t struck as much as Boston, but we are grieving – because a lot of us had friends still traveling, still trying to get back today,” Dowling said.

Madison Sandifur, 7, placed white roses inside running shoes at the base of the sculpture to remember those who died.

“For me it supports (those) who died on the Boston Marathon,” Sandifur said.

The sound of shoes hitting the pavement was a sound of camaraderie – a brotherhood, runner Jeff Schuster described. Before the 6 p.m. run, Schuster paused to celebrate life, his safety and remember those who were hurt by the tragedy.

“We all understand the sacrifice and what it’s taken to be where we are,” Schuster said.

Ryan Oelrich organized a shoe drive for the memorial run, responding to tragedy by encouraging generosity.

“I think it’s disturbing, definitely upsetting and absolutely senseless. I feel so awful for the families and the runners who have worked so hard over so many months,” Oelrich said.

The drive continues through Friday. Gently used shoes can be placed at the base of the sculptures on Spokane Falls Boulevard at Post Street. They’ll be picked up daily and given to homeless people and at-risk youth, Oelrich said. Shoes can also be brought to the Flying Irish Running Club’s regular meeting Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Red Lion Hotel on the River or to Runners Soul at 221 N. Wall St.


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