Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

A defiant run in the park

Monday's tragedy unites athletes

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WILL terrorists stop people from running?

Not in this universe.

"I'll definitely go back -- it's not going to stop me from running. I've already qualified for next year," Tim Turner declared Tuesday. He finished the bomb-plagued Boston Marathon on Monday and was barely off the plane on Tuesday when he went to Assiniboine Park to turn spectator at Winnipeg's part in an international show of defiance.

More than 300 people came together for a spontaneous five-kilometre run in the park, responding to a social media campaign kick-started by radio personality Ace Burpee. The same thing happened Tuesday in a lot places, an awful lot of places.

"You have to live life," Turner said as he signed the Canadian flag the runners will send to the people of Boston.

"This is really a testament to the solidarity of the worldwide running community," marvelled John Murray, a member of the Tribalistic Triathlon Team, in the park with Christina McDonald for a regular training run.

"It just shows how close this community is," said Virginie Pollet, hoping to qualify to run the Boston Marathon one day. "We thought this was a perfect opportunity to come out. I was in shock."

Running, said Pollet, "is really for fun and the atmosphere."

And then came Monday.

"We just wanted to come and show our support," her friend, Reanne Krupka, said. "Runners love runners."

Reid Nelson was going for a long run in the park, a 16-year-old Oak Park High School student doing his training, when he spotted his dad in running gear and added another five kilometres to his normal 10 to 15.

"It's inspirational," he said.

Dad Vern Nelson runs and bikes regularly in off-road events. "I would hate to see events like this become something people don't do," he said.

A couple of familiar dudes had shucked their suits after work and come to run.

"Ever since we heard the news (Monday), so many people have been frustrated and angry. We decided to run with a great community," said Attorney General Andrew Swan.

Most other nights, "I'd be in St. Vital Park, three miles or so," said St. Vital Coun. Brian Mayes, sporting a 1998 Boston Marathon jacket. There's a photo somewhere of a younger guy with a red beard wearing that jacket, said Mayes.

Kurt Lehmann, of Swamp Donkeys Adventure Races, said when Burpee first went on Twitter Tuesday morning, "It exploded from there."

By 5:30 p.m., the course was laid out and a refreshments table set up in Assiniboine Park.

A long day for Turner, who allowed that "my legs are shot" and that he'll have trouble with stairs until at least Thursday.

Boston was his 10th marathon. "I was in the family meeting area when the two blasts went off," said Turner, who initially thought it was from a nearby construction site.

A few months ago, he qualified for the New York City Marathon, a tougher standard than Boston's, he said, and was in his hotel room when the run was cancelled because of hurricane Sandy.

Boston was pretty much deserted Monday night, he said, and when he left the hotel at 6:15 a.m. for the airport, it was still quiet.

There were a lot of marathon finishers' jackets in the airport. "It was pretty sombre," a lot of solemn nods runner to runner.

"I think 99 per cent of our group will do it again," Turner said.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 17, 2013 A4

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