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A week ago Monday, local runners, many of them wearing Boston Marathon 2013 running shirts, gathered at the Competitive Foot on Marion Street in Oak Park to pay tribute to the victims of the Boston bombings by doing what they do best: going for a run.
One week after the bombings, they joined runners around the country in paying the same tribute. Emotions were still raw for many runners shocked that anyone would attack a sport that is about healthy living.
Annette Towler is training for the Wisconsin Marathon but came out with something different in mind. She said, "I'm here tonight thinking of victims. I'm here to do three things, run, pray and forgive."
Local runner Elizabeth Granoff said, "Runners are amazing people. They're doing this tonight all across the country for the victims and for America."
Before the 5.5-mile run around Oak Park, the most poignant stories came from those who had run the Boston Marathon a week ago.
Like many marathoners, Amy Moroney felt great for the first half of the legendary Boston race. Then she started to feel significant cramping in her legs. After getting to the finish line, she made her way to the nearby medical tent. She was being treated 15 minutes later when the first bomb went off.
She saw victims and blood everywhere. A woman was brought into the tent with shrapnel wounds and her pants blown to pieces. Moroney was worried for her husband Dan whom she had told to meet her at the finish line. He and other family eventually found her and were unhurt.
Moroney said she was running on this night because "I have to do something." She said she has been on an emotional roller coaster and was experiencing "survivor's guilt." As for the victims, she said, "They're in my thoughts and prayers and I can't send out enough love."
Geri Bensen finished 20 minutes before the bombing. She too was feeling sick and cramped after the race and was back in her hotel room a block away when the bombs exploded. She said, "I'm running today for those who were injured, those who went to the race and will never be the same. It could have been any one of us."
Ann Joyner served in Desert Storm and is familiar with the sound of bombings. A longtime member of the Oak Park Runners Club, she finished the marathon just four minutes before the explosions and was making her way through the finishing chutes when the bombing occurred. She said it was surreal. She could only see smoke behind her.
People were crying, saying, "There's a bomb." It was cold. Someone gave her a Mylar blanket. Another pressed a finisher's medal into her hand and moved her along. She looked for her fiancé.
Regarding the terrorists, she said, "I don't care how disenfranchised they felt. I don't care about their upbringing. You don't blow people up." As for herself she said, "I am Boston strong. No terrorist is going to stop us."