Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Trinity Senior organizes memorial walk/run for Boston victims

Chloe Miller ’14, News Editor

Memorials and donations have been pouring in from around the world in response to the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings that left three dead and injured early 200. The marathon, held on Massachusetts state holiday Patriot’s Day, is an event steeped in loyalty, camaraderie, and tradition, and the blow of the bombings has shaken that spirit. In an effort to show support and commemorate the victims, runners and spectators alike have been organizing run/walk events around the country. Trinity hosted its own 2.62-mile run/walk last Thursday, April 25, called “Trinity Stands with Boston.”

Anastasia Edwards ’13 organized the event largely by herself with help from Residential Life, Campus Safety, and the Dean of Students office. A blue and yellow balloon arch stretched across the bottom of Vernon Street, just across from Psi Upsilon House, to mark the start and finish line for the event. There were chalk designs on the ground as well, and signs representing different parts of Boston were posted around the staging area. A red “hydration station” held water, Gatorade, bagels, and beads and wristbands to show support for the event.

Around 150 people showed up for the event, which was not marketed as a race, although the men’s and women’s track teams certainly led the crowd. The 2.62-mile route (one-tenth of a full 26.2-mile marathon) was a modified campus loop, with participants running up Vernon Street, down Allen Street, around campus, and then down Allen Street again before turning in at Vernon and finishing at the starting line. Dozens of faculty and students lined the course to cheer runners, and campus safety was stationed at each intersection to direct runners and traffic.

Edwards was a participant in this year’s Boston Marathon, and was just a half-mile away from the finish line before chaos from the bombings brought her and thousands of other runners to a halt before they could finish. The bombs went off at the finish line when the race had been running for four hours and ten minutes, which is the most common finish time for runners of that event.  Edwards had been training for the marathon for several months, and ran in a “charity spot” by raising money for Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Edwards was a part of the Dana Farber charity in high school and volunteered at the marathon, but decided her freshman year at Trinity that she would like to run. “I wear the names of the people I’m running for on the back of my singlet. I also write the list on my wrist so when running gets tough I can look at my wrist and just focus on that,” says Edwards.

On race day, Edwards woke early and prepared for the race, joining other Dana-Farber runners near the starting line. Her wave set off at 10:40 a.m., and the first half of the race felt great. Edwards started feeling worse around 20 miles, and the infamous “Heartbreak Hill” that effects thousand of runners. Edwards kept herself moving through the last five miles by focusing on the finish line, and when she hit a wall of runners around 25.7, she was confused. “All I could focus on was not stopping and still pushing, so when someone put their hand on my shoulder I was pissed. I thought they were joking. I sat down and was thrown into the twilight zone,” she recalls. The thousand of runners sat in confused silence listening to ambulances wailing just on the other side of the road. Cell phone service was spotty and it wasn’t until Edwards stepped to the side and received 70 messages from concerned friends that she started to realize the weight of the situation.

Edwards found some friends who walked up from the finish line and waited in a friend’s apartment until things became more clear.   Luckily, none of her friends and supporters had made it quite down to the finish line where the bombs went off. “The love and concern that poured in was so comforting. The media covered a lot of the spirit and humanity that shone through the trauma of the bombings, and that was true. It was incredible to see a city come together so quickly.”

“When I came back to Trinity and saw how affected Trinity was by this event I was so moved,” said Edwards, on her idea to create the run. Edwards met up with Director of Campus Life Nora Huth, who helped organize the idea into an event in just a few minutes. Edwards said she pulled the whole thing together in two days, and was extremely impressed with the turnout.

Finishing the Trinity run was an emotional experience for Edwards, as she was symbolically able to finish the race that was cut short as well as face emotions about the tragic incidents. Over 100 students, staff, and faculty members were also able to express emotion and support for the victims in Boston. The race opened with short speeches by Director of Community Relations Jason Rojas and Connecticut State Representative, 4th District, Angel Arce.

Seeing the Trinity community come together in such a way was inspiring and fun. The sunny spring weather and eager runners gave a positive spirit to a sad event. Edwards would like to thank everyone who came out in support of the event. She’ll be back on the race course next year, and continues to fundraise for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.  


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