Under extra security, athletes pay tribute to bombing victims by lacing up, pushing on.

Last updated: April 20. 2013 11:24PM - 1401 Views
By - woboyle@civitasmedia.com - (570) 991-6118

An officer patrols before the Saturday morning starts of an 8.1-mile and 5K run at Harveys Lake.
An officer patrols before the Saturday morning starts of an 8.1-mile and 5K run at Harveys Lake.
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HARVEYS LAKE — Police toting shotguns — or in some cases, accompanied by police dogs — went almost unnoticed Saturday morning as more than 500 runners gathered for the Glen Summit Spring Water Harveys Lake Run.

This week’s Boston Marathon bombings and subsequent manhunt were still in fresh in many people’s minds, but the runners exuded fearlessness and resolve.

“They’re runners first,” said Rich Pais, director of the event. “They want to run to honor the folks in Boston.”

Security was beefed up for the Luzerne County event, but Pais said he hadn’t seen any apprehension in the runners; in fact, he said he saw a sense of defiance. “It’s just not the nature of someone who trains hard to be fearful,” he said.

Whitney Lukas, 20, of Courtdale, ran in Monday’s Boston Marathon, crossing the finish line only seven minutes before the bombs went off. However, she will continue to enter racing events and hopes to be back in Boston next year.

“There are people — runners and spectators — who will never walk the same, let alone run, after what happened in Boston,” she said. “I want to do it for them.”

She said seeing increased security, even at Harveys Lake, near her hometown, is a good and necessary action.

Lori Gochenauer, of Annapolis, Md., and Amy Welsh, of Lancaster, travel to races almost every weekend. The fatal finish-line attack, which claimed three lives and injured about 170 runners and spectators, won’t discourage them from entering races, they said.

“We’re all the more inspired to come out and be together with the other runners,” Welsh said. “Runners are a close-knit, supportive group.”

Gochenauer said she ran a recent race in Las Vegas at which there were 44,000 entrants. “Sure it’s somewhat scary after what happened in Boston,” she said. “But this is something we do for the challenge. We look forward to the weekend and another race. And now, Boston has become one more event where the innocence has been taken away.”

Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judge Richard Hughes said runners he’s talked to have more determination and no apprehension about running in races.

“I think by coming out for these event we pay tribute to the people of Boston,” he said. “It’s really hard to understand how two people can wake up one morning and decide to kill and hurt innocent people with a bomb.”

Hughes hopes to train hard enough to one day enter the Boston Marathon, he said. “I hope more people than ever come back there next year,” Hughes said.

Rev. Wayne Morgan, pastor at Parker Hill Community Church in Wilkes-Barre, arrived to help cook pancakes at the race. “I’ve noticed an immense determination and generosity with the runners,” he said. “They will not be deterred by the action of those two in Boston.”

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