Adam MacDowell and a dozen other athletes who ran the Boston Marathon were glad to be home Saturday morning as they and an estimated crowd of 400 to 600 area runners celebrated their safe return and remembered Monday’s bombing victims and survivors with a 2.62 mile, “Baton Rouge Run for Boston” through the downtown area.
The Baton Rouge men’s team took second place at Boston and the women took third, said McDowell, a Central High teacher and track coach, as he thanked the large, cheering crowd gathered below the Capitol steps. Many were dressed in Boston Marathon colors of yellow and blue.
“I want to thank you all for your support for our running community and by being here to memorialize the events that occurred in Boston,” MacDowell said. When he added, “I was super happy yesterday when they caught that kid,” the crowd cheered even louder.
Events like the one in downtown Baton Rouge on Saturday are happening all over America and represent who people are, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne said.
“We’re not going to let these senseless and tragic acts bring us down,” he said.
Noting that every race has a beginning and an end, Dardenne said, “what Boston reminds us is that we never know when our end is and how fragile life is and how much we need to love one another and recognize that every day is a blessing from God.”
Jennifer L. Peters, of Varsity Sports and a race organizer, said, “We are here to show we are a strong community and we are Louisiana proud and we are going to continue to do what makes us feel good and that is to run and walk around the streets of Baton Rouge.”
Peters also recognized and thanked the city Police Department and State Police who were out in force, both in uniform and undercover in street clothes and running apparel. City patrol cars, LSP motorcycles and BRPD bicycle-mounted officers were obvious at all intersections for a later 5K The Color Run, in which several thousand participated.
Brother Elias Eichorn of St. Joseph Abby, led the crowd in a moment of silence before the Baton Rouge Run for Boston began, then prayed “for those that are highly affected and those that are still suffering from this tragedy.”
Danny Bourgeois, a Louisiana Marathon organizer, said the large turnout “shows how strong the running community is here and shows how running helps us cope with any challenge in life. We’re running to celebrate life.”
“I think (the mood) might have been a little more somber this morning if they had not caught him last night,” said Michelle LeBlanc, of Fleet Feet Sports, another race organizer. “But this is great. We cannot forget about the victims and the injured.”
Dylan Jenks, 26, of Baton Rouge, the fourth to cross the finish line, said the event in Boston “was a shame,” and “everybody felt it down here.”
“I’m signed up for a half marathon in Boston next month and I’m still going to run it,” Jenks said. “After last week, a brief second went through my head, ‘Am I still going to do it? And I said yes. Everybody needs to keep doing what we do,” Jenks said. “We can’t let them win.”
Scott Kleinpeter, a tri-athlete from Prairieville, his wife, Karla, daughter Lauren, 13, and son Logan, 9, run together regularly as a family and did so Saturday morning as well.
“The reason we are here is because of the tragedy in Boston,” Scott Kleinpeter said. “There was another race we were going to run in.”
“It’s a good way to get out as a family and do stuff all together,” daughter Lauren said.
“We’re here to show our support for the lives lost and the people who were hurt,” Karla Kleinpeter said. “There is always that worry in the back of your mind that things can happen because they happen everywhere but we put our trust in the good Lord and pray that he keeps us safe and watches over us.”
Iberia Bank hosted a table at the finish line where donations were collected for the Boston Athletic Association, said Tamara Palmer, an assistant manager at the bank’s Acadian Village branch.
Other groups represented ofthe event included Black Girls Run Baton Rouge, Claim Your Journey, Club South Runners, Fleet Feet, Happy’s Running Club, Rocketkidz Foundation and Varsity Sports.
A few hours after the Baton Rouge Run for Boston, a much larger and colorful 5K run was held downtown where estimates of 6,000 to 8,000 people of all ages participated.
Instead of wearing serious running apparel, most of the participants wore white shorts and T-shirts in anticipation of being doused by volunteers dumping yellow, blue, pink and purple powder on them as they ran through inflated gates at each K of the race.
Many participants also wore tutus, including some men, and most wore glasses of some kind to keep the environmentally friendly corn-starch powder out of their eyes. Lots of runners also wore air-filter masks or bandanas over their faces as well.
Rachel Guedry, wearing a 2-foot-high blonde Afro wig, was running with her son Carson, 7, who was wearing blue sunglasses and a Color Run T-shirt. Guedry’s get-up was so obvious that dozens of participants wanted their photos taken with her via cellphones held by friends.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Guedry said.