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Runners hit pavement in Jacksonville for Boston

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Updated: 4/22/2013 6:53 pm

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Runners for Boston is happening all across the country Monday. Jacksonville is one of many cities hitting the pavement to honor the bombing victims.

Runners met at First Place Sports at the Town Center about 6 p.m. The 3-5 mile fun run will happen on Gate Parkway -- part of the road will be closed for it. Thousands will run for the cause.

When avid runner Greg Looney heard about the Boston marathon bombings. His heart broke.

"You look at an event like that and it's supposed to go over so well and it's Patriots Day and things like that and it's just very disappointing," he said.

Hundreds of miles away in Jacksonville, Fla., he felt helpless -- until now. Four months ago, Looney started up a weekly Monday night run at the Town Center. He quickly decided this Monday night, the run would be different. It would be for the victims. By noon Monday, 2,000 other runners signed up to join in. Normally, there are only a dozen or so.

Looney says when he laces up his shoes, he'll hit the pavement harder and faster. He'll be thinking about those victims every step of the way.

"We're a family. We are USA. Just because a tragedy happens there doesn't mean it isn't felt here."

First Place Sports Town Center Store Manager David Martinson is running, too.

"I was actually up there and I ran in the race," he said.

Martinson says he had finished the Boston Marathon an hour and a half before the deadly blasts. He was celebrating in a restaurant three blocks away.

"It was just sheer pandemonium."

One week later, he is lacing up his running shoes again. He hopes the victims and their families can feel the River City's support, 2,000 people strong.

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

After the race, Looney is welcoming runners to his bar at BlackFinn. Drink specials are being offered and the proceeds from those drinks will go to One Fund Boston.

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