One Run for Boston – A relay brings solidarity and healing for runners across America

_MG_3601Portions of this article ran in the Hi-Desert Star on March 15, 2014. This version is adapted for this blog and has been updated.

One Run For Boston

On April 15, 2013, toward the end of the Boston Marathon, two pressure cooker bombs exploded killing 3 people and injuring 264 others.

Three friends in England were following the marathon from their home cities when the bombs went off. Horrified by the news, they thought, this is not something that is happening on the other side of the world, this is something that is happening to everyone.

Motivated by a strong desire to help, Danny Bent, Kate Treleaven and Jamie Hay considered ways to support the One Fund effort in Boston. Since they all possessed keen organizational skills they decided to put together an event they hoped would unite runners all across America, provide a show of solidarity, and raise a lot more money than they could on their ownThey came up with the idea of the One Run For Boston Relay and implanted that idea two months after the bombings. 

The first One Run for Boston took place April 2013. There were 2,000 runners, some traveling hundreds of miles from their home states to take part. They kept the baton moving around the clock through scorching deserts, lightning storms and torrential rain and they raised over 90,000 dollars.

On March 16, the second record-breaking non-stop relay from L.A. to Boston began.  The relay started from the Santa Monica Pier and will reach Boston on Sunday, April 13th, a week before this year’s Boston Marathon.

 When the relay began, John Odom, of Redondo Beach, California, carried the baton for the first few steps along Ocean Drive to San Vicente Blvd. Odom, in Boston for the finish of the first, One Run for Boston relay in 2013, carried the baton the final few meters in a wheelchair as a result of the injuries he sustained in the bombings. Eleven operations and countless hours of physical therapy later, he has learned to walk again and his inspirational progress symbolizes the courageous spirit shared by those impacted by the events.  This year, over 3,000 runners, will run 336 stages in 28 days totaling 3300 miles across 14 states — California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. A number of new off-road stages have been added from last year’s relay, including a 66 mile section of trail through the Caprock Canyon State Park in Texas.

Most of the stages are around ten miles with some as long as 22 miles. Group stages in some of the major cities, including Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Pittsburgh and New York City, are five miles.

Runners sign up to run a stage of the relay via the One Run For Boston website: They are obligated to raise 250 dollars, but many raise much more. Jennifer Mihalcin of Yucca Valley  collected over 1,000 dollars. Each runner is given their own online fundraising page which enables them to collect sponsorship and to stay connected. They can run with friends and family and everyone is welcome to run any stage of the relay.

The Runners in the High Desert:

Moly Thorpe, a public school teacher from Rancho Mirage ran stage 15 from Painted Hills in North Palm Springs to Willy Boy’s in Morongo Valley. Of everything she has ever been involved in, “This,” she says, “is the most meaningful event I have been a part of. There are people in need,” she emphasized, “and we are standing behind them. They say Boston Strong, but the truth is it’s not only this country, look at who brought this to us — two Brits,” she said indicating Bent and Treleaven. “I guess they have forgiven us from breaking away.” 

Jennifer Mihalcin, a Yucca Valley resident, ran last year and ran again this year. Mihalcin and three of her friends (Samantha Jones, Lindsey Hermanson, and Michelle Andrade) started at Willy Boy’s in Morongo Valley and handed over the baton at Acoma Trail in Yucca Valley to Don Talbot.

Mihalcin was thrilled to be participating in this relay. “I’m doing something I love and helping other people. I never thought I could do that,” she said.

Laurel Kedis, a mother and hygienists, works-out lifting truck tires, running laps and completing a designated amount of heart pumping exercises at her gym, CrossFit Yucca Valley. It’s a tough workout, but she loves it. Her son introduced her to the first relay, telling her it was something she had to do. After running last year with her friend Brenda McCaly, she came back for the second time. She ran from Park Boulevard in Joshua Tree to Lear Avenue on March 17th.

McCaly, a registered nurse at Desert Regional Hospital also ran again, this time on her own, from Lear Avenue to the Airport in 29 Palms. Deeply moved by the bombing victims and their stories, she decided to support the Boston One Fund through the One Run For Boston.

“It was so horrific,” McCaly said of the events, “if there is something we can do in California to help Boston, it feels like the right thing to do.”

The One Run For Boston website has been a tremendous tool in organising, supporting and drawing people together. Many of the runners talk about making lifelong friends all over the country through this event. The website is full of photos of runners, supporters and people affected by the bombing. It’s a progress report as people are fit for prosthetics, go through physical therapy, and move forward in their lives. It gives everyone in this vast community a chance to cheer them on.

For McCaly, it’s about American pride and the running community.

One Run For Boston had a profound effect on many of the runners who took part in it last year. “When it was over, they didn’t simply walk away,’ said Treleaven. A community was built and a second relay was born, this time striving for a million dollar goal. Early in the relay, Treleaven said they were going strong and in just one day they made 200,000. To date, One Run for Boston has raised over $262,075  by 1679 runners.

The baton, lovingly named “Miles” by the runners, has a GPS in it. The runners progress can be followed on the website.

For now, the relay is just in America but the organizers have launched virtual stages that invite people all over the world to fund the event and run in their home country at the same time the relay is going on here. The connection is getting bigger and wider.

Nine days in, Miles is being passed hand to hand through New Mexico and One Run for Boston is getting closer to its goal.

On the road.

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On the road. I have been on the road since Sunday with several stops to get things done and take a much needed sleep. I’m presently in Parker at a Mc Donald’s uploading pictures and organizing my thoughts. Everyone we have meet is wonderful: such strength, commitment and generosity.  I love this country and I love the people. I will head from here to Phoenix. I’m headed home after that. As great as this has been I miss my home. Easier to work from there.

One Run For Boston

Molly Thorpe, Jennifer Mihalcin, Don Tolbert, Brenda McCaly, Laural Kedis, Mary Hoatlin, Laura Ingalls, Noah Coughlan Running from painted Hills to Route 62 and Sheep Hole Mountain

I’m leaving home base now and traveling toward Arizona. The people involved in this relay are a_MG_3367 _MG_3349mazing people with lots of energy.