LAYTON -- Hundreds of Top of Utah runners reached out with their hearts and running shoes to those affected by the Boston Marathon tragedy by doing what they do best, running as a group to show their support from across the country.
When the owners of Striders, a running gear store in Layton, heard about The One Fund Boston, set up by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to raise money to help families affected by the tragic events during last Monday's Boston Marathon, they decided to take action.
Given that many of their customers and close friends were a part of the Boston Marathon this year, they decided to put together an impromptu 5K run that began at their store shortly after 7 p.m. Monday with nearly 400 runners jogging on roads surrounding the store.
"We wanted to show our support, so we jumped on board real quick when we heard about The One Fund Boston," said owner John Wojciechowski.
For many runners, the Boston Marathon is considered the pinnacle of running.
To see so many people from the Top of Utah coming together with one common goal was heartwarming for Wojciechowski.
"We are really just one big running community reaching out."
Striders sold shirts with the Boston Marathon logo on the front for $20, and stickers for $3, with all of the proceeds going toward The One Fund Boston.
"We're not going to raise $7 million, but a pretty good chunk of money is coming out of Utah," said Wojciechowski, who estimated the amount raised around $8,000.
A sea of bright fluorescent yellow-green shirts started the run. Despite the chilly weather, people of various ages came out, including young children either running or in strollers.
Rex Carter, 71, of Layton, one of the participants who completed the Boston Marathon a week ago, was excited about the chance to do something for those affected by the tragedy.
"I feel like we had to do something, especially for those who couldn't finish, and worked for so long and so hard to get there," Carter said.
His friend Toby Nishikawa, 40, from Willard, was also at the Boston Marathon and had finished the race prior to the blasts going off.
"I felt so helpless then, not being able to help the victims, so I felt like I had to come and support them (in this race)," Nishikawa said. "For that cowardly act to take away their moment, so that they couldn't celebrate and be joyful, made for a bittersweet day."
Not only were people still mourning the events at the Boston Marathon, but the bomb scare at Mountain View Elementary School in Layton earlier Monday was fresh on runner's minds.
"Just today, with the bomb threats in Utah, we felt like we wanted to be a part of something. Even though it's just a small gesture, we hope it helps," said Amanda Cosper, of West Point, who was running the race with her husband and two small children in a double stroller.
Layton Mayor Steve Curtis also was mindful of the events in his city earlier in the day.
"My heart just dropped when I heard about Mountain View Elementary. We are not going to stand by without taking a stand against such a cowardly act," said Curtis, who was gratified to see so many citizens coming out to take a stand against terrorism. "The thing that is uplifting to me is that mankind still has a heart."