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2,400 "Runners for Boston" in Jacksonville

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Updated: 4/22/2013 11:43 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Boston pride hit the streets of Jacksonville Monday.  Our city joined the nation in organizing fun runs to show solidarity for the victims of the Boston Marathon terror attack.

Organizers say they had no idea they'd get the kind of support they did.

Every Monday a group of about a dozen runners meet at First Place Sports at the Town Center to run together.  But one week after the bombings at the Boston Marathon, they wanted to make Monday's run special.

Jacksonville responded in a big way.  It started like every race does with runners pounding the pavement in Jacksonville. A clock timed runners at the finish line but that wasn't what this run was all about.

"Running took a real blow at Boston and so this is great, said First Place Sports Owner and organizer Doug Alred.  "Running is coming back saying, 'we're not down, we're going to help!'" 

For David Martinson, his heart was heavy. Just one week ago, he raced in the Boston Marathon. When he helped organize this event, he hoped 200 others would join him. The crowd of 2,400 blew him away.

"Amazing to be honest. Almost like a little piece of Boston will be here in Jacksonville," he said of the support.

One guy ran the whole event carrying the American flag.

"I just thought it was the right thing to do after our nation's tragedy," said Nelson Greene.

He says he doesn't do this kind of thing often.

"I'm out of breath so you can tell I'm not a runner."

But Monday night, he knew this was something he could do to give back. To show the victims they aren't suffering alone. And to send a message to the world, it's not just Boston Strong. It's America Strong.

"To symbolize what we stand for as a country. Resistance. Freedom," he said.  "I hope it meant a lot. This country means a lot to me."

First Place Sports also sold t-shirts that read, "Runners for Boston." Organizers sold the shirts for $20, with the hope of raising $4,000. They ordered a few hundred to sell.  Five orders later, the Jacksonville community helped raise $40,000 for the One Fund Boston.  That money will go to help the victims.
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