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Terrorism won't win at Country Music Marathon


Attacks at last week’s Boston Marathon left three dead and more than 180 injured as two homemade bombs exploded within a close range of each other at the race’s finish line.


What ensued was a two-day manhunt in which one suspect was killed in a firefight with police and another was captured hiding in a nearby suburban backyard.


The tragic event was thought to have an affect in Middle Tennessee as the St. Jude Country Music Marathon is scheduled to run April 27, just 12 days after the terrorist attacks. A decreased turnout of runners at the downtown Nashville event was a distinct possibility as participants could rethink their desire to run. That will not be the case.


“I think, in general, it’s just made us runners more inclined to run,” said Andy Johnson, owner of Run Franklin, a locally owned and operated store in Franklin that specializes in pain-free running. “I deal with people on a daily basis coming in (to the store) and people who weren’t thinking about running are saying they’re going to sign up. I think there’s more people who want to show that evil will not win.”


Two-time half marathon winner, and Franklin resident, Sharon Thompson echoed Johnson’s thoughts.


“A lot of my runners are just continuing to go on everyday,” she said. “I feel like people are just going ahead and not letting this event ruin their lives.”


Thompson, who won the event in both 2010 and 2012, knows two people who were injured as spectators in Boston – both classmates at the University of Tennessee. Although she had already planned not to run in Nashville this year prior to the April 15 events, she does see more people wanting to show support.


“I can see people wanting to get more involved,” she said. “I see lots of T-shirts going around and lots of fundraisers.”


Johnson will be running in the half marathon this year, the second time he has participating in the event. Last year he ran the full marathon instead.


Competitor Group Inc., the race’s organizer, estimates 30,000 runners to take part in the event that will start at Centennial Park and finish at LP Field.


Security will be increased with extra public and private security presence at both the start and finish lines, along with all participants, spectators, and volunteers being subject to random bag checks. In total, 150 extra security personnel are expected.


Like any event in sports, Saturday’s Country Music Marathon will have a winner. Thanks to the heart and endurance of runners everywhere, that winner will not be terrorism.


“We love winning and we love the event,” Johnson said. “If we stay home then we’re letting (the terrorists) win.”

Posted on: 4/24/2013


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