CLINTON — The Boston Marathon is a symbol of achievement for long-distance runners, those who make it there and the ones who hope to someday qualify.
So when two bombs detonated into the crowd at the conclusion of the race Monday, killing three and injuring close to 200, local runner Aimee Hammel spiraled into feelings of shock and disbelief.
She began poring over the news and websites to follow an event that in her own words, "has consumed me."
"I can't express enough how much spectators' encouragement along a course mean," said Hammel, who is herself a marathon runner. "Over the last two days I've thought a lot about the people that have always been there for me – family, friends and strangers – and how much that meant to me. Seeing your loved ones and celebrating with them after you cross the finish line is an incredible feeling. I can't imagine having that taken away in such a horrific way. It just breaks my heart."
When she awakened Wednesday morning, she made the decision to act by teaming up with other local runners, members of the Riverfront Running Gang, to host a Unity Run in Clinton on Saturday. The runners and walkers are to meet where Fifth Avenue South meets Riverview Drive at 7:30 a.m. that morning. Those participating can run a block or however far they wish to run.
"The point is just to get runners, and walkers, together; whether they were in Boston or not, whether they're a beginning runner or a marathon runner, we're all impacted by what happened," she said. "It affects each of us in different ways. Coming together we can recognize, share and talk with one another. People run for different reasons and this could be healing for those struggling to make sense of Monday's tragic event."
For Hammel, just planning the event has moved her toward a more peaceful place.
"It's been therapeutic," she said. "It's a healing process."