Behind every runner, you'll find a reason they run. For their health, for the sense of community and closeness, for their sanity, for that perfect runner's high. But Wednesday evening, about 200 local runners added one more reason — for Boston.
Two days after explosions shook the 117th annual Boston Marathon, the Vancouver Marathon dedicated its short monthly training run to those affected on the East Coast.
"It really just hurts to hear about that," said Natasha Hirtzel, 31, as she waited at the Grant House for the run to start.
Many runners pinned Boston bibs to their running shirts and shorts. Monday's tragedy was felt by many local residents who knew someone running the race.
After hearing about the explosions, Kerianne Christie of Washougal worried about her two friends who were running. Both turned out to be safe. The 42-year-old said she's seen the tragedy bring the running community closer together, even encouraging people to pick up the sport.
"You can't knock us down, you just push us forward," she said. Christie expects an even bigger turnout at next year's Boston Marathon.
A handful of the runners who gathered at the Grant House previously ran Boston. They knew the course, the crowd and what it really feels like to be there.
Sarah Abernathy, 61, describes running the Boston Marathon in 2003 as a "dream come true." When the race starts on a small hill, you see this wall of runners, she said, and it suddenly dawns on you that you're really there. You're really running those infamous 26.2 miles. The crowd claps the whole way, encouraging you to keep going.
While the bombing may cloud her memory of Boston for a short time, it will never change it, Abernathy said. She'll keep running.
Abernathy ran the Vancouver Marathon the past two years and plans to run the half-marathon this year on June 16.
Many who gathered at the Grant House said it's important to remember Boston and do what the running community always does. Run.
"It seems like if you're trying to crush the hope of a group of people, marathoners aren't the ones," said Keri Clough, 31, of Vancouver.
Although people were upbeat and amiable, as they chatted with their running buddies, the group stood for a moment of silence. After the Star Spangled Banner was played, heads were bowed; the flag was at half-staff.
And then, they did what they do best. The runners tightened their laces and took off, west on Officers Row, dedicating their effort to the tragedy.