By Mike Connors
(Editor’s note: Derek Bush is a 2006 graduate of Richmond High School. Bush, an All-State cross country and track performer for the Spartans, is in the Navy and currently stationed in Virginia Beach, Va.)
Christi Linardich described her past few days as “real tough,” but the anguish on her face suggested that was an understatement.
Linardich, 29, of Norfolk, said she is close friends with a sister of Sean Collier, an MIT law enforcement officer killed in a confrontation last week, authorities say, with the Boston Marathon bombing suspects.
So when Linardich learned about a run to benefit Boston taking off from Blair Middle School on Monday night, she made plans to attend.
“I wanted to come out to show her everyone is staying strong with her,” Linardich said about Collier’s sister.
The Norfolk run was one of many across the nation Monday night. John Lomogda, manager of Running Etc. in Ghent, Va., said the national Independent Running Retailers Association set up the event and encouraged stores to increase awareness.
Runners could buy “Runners for Boston” T-shirts, with the proceeds going to One Fund Boston, a charity formed to help those affected by the April 15 bombings.
Lomogda said he originally ordered 100 T-shirts for races in Norfolk and Virginia Beach. They sold so fast, he needed to order 300 more.
They sold out as well.
“The running community is not huge, so we all felt impacted in some way,” Lomogda said. “So we wanted to do what we could to help the cause.”
The race was not timed, but Derek Bush, an engineman on the U.S. Navy ship Gunston Hall, was the first finisher of about 200 who completed the 2.62-mile course in Norfolk.
Bush, 24, said he became a runner in middle school, when his bike was stolen. In eighth grade, he set a goal of running in the Boston Marathon.
Bush learned about the attacks while on the ship, then followed the news, disgusted, the rest of the day. He hasn’t qualified for the Boston Marathon, but Monday night was the start of increased dedication.
“Now I’m going to try my hardest to get there next year,” he said.
Temperatures were in the low 50s on Monday night, and a light mist fell over the runners. Those conditions tempted Amy Jo Townley, of Norfolk, to skip the run.
When she saw the runners of all ages outside the middle school, she was glad she didn’t.
“I definitely got choked up on the way over,” she said. “Every one of us was hurt in some way by what happened. It was in some way personal.”
Linardich said she is a surfer, not a runner, and was tired after finishing the race.
But she quickly added that her effort had been a needed release.
“I’m energized,” she said. “It was great to see everyone come out to show their support.”
(Copyright (c) 2013, The Virginian-Pilot. Reprinted with permission.)