When talking about the running community, it really is a community. Nobody can band together and find camaraderie quicker than runners. Whether it is the sharing of successes and PRs (personal records) or the sharing of chronic aches and pains, runners are always there to support and cheer one another on.

Races, such as the iconic Boston Marathon, held on Patriots Day each year since 1897, unite thousands of runners to test their mental and physical strength and stamina. The Boston Marathon itself is a status symbol for those who qualify to run it (known as a BQ to runners). This year, 23,000 people participated in the event, with even more people supporting the runners.

The bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday not only knocked the running community but our local communities as well. Nine runners from Lake Oswego signed up for the race; six of those clocked in finishing times.

Byron Gaddis, 56, was one of the LO runners, finishing just 15 to 30 minutes before the blasts. His wife and daughter had watched him run by but were on the subway when the blasts went off. Other Lake Oswegans running were Dr. Leigh Lewis, 43, and Ted Lillie, 28; Lake Oswego's Dr. David C. Nazemi, a hospitalist at Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center, was volunteering at the marathon's medical tents. When the bombs went off, he switched to helping blast victims.

Seven runners from West Linn were listed in the race, including West Linn-Wilsonville School District Superintendent Bill Rhoades and West Linn residents and Portland Running Company owners Paula and Dave Harkin.

It takes but just a few minutes for an event that took place across the nation to hit home.

Thankfully, no one from our community was killed, although several local people were in the vicinity.

On Tuesday, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber ordered flags at half-staff in honor of the victims of the bombing. As of press time, there were three recorded deaths and more than 170 people wounded, 17 of them critically.

On a day when many people are facing the greatest challenge of their lives, running 26.2 miles in a highly competitive race, the two explosions near the finish line created a new challenge — finding safety, helping others who were hurt and locating friends and families.

Luckily, runners are a different sort of folk. Learning to run long distances involves pain, suffering and perseverance, both mentally and physically.

As details continue to emerge and the FBI continues its investigation, the running community will most certainly rebound and rebuild. There was a movement Tuesday for all runners to show solidarity by wearing race shirts. Upcoming local races, such as the Eugene Marathon, are taking extra precautions, but will not be canceled.

That is because runners don’t give up — every step forward is a step closer to the finish line. Thankfully, there are a lot of runners in the nation.

Our thoughts and condolences go out to all the runners and their families, both near and far, as well as those on the sidelines watching and cheering, and their families, who were affected by this tragic event.

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