Running Independents Raise Money, Show Support for Boston

Running storeowners are showing support for Boston with marathon-related events and special T-shirt sales that will provide $20 per shirt to the marathon bombing disaster relief.

Parker Karnan, executive director of the Independent Running Retailers Association, estimated that between 500 and 600 specialty run shops are involved.

The T-shirts, based on an idea from Naperville Running Co. owner Kris Hartner in conjunction with his New Balance sales representative, are printed with the words “Runners for Boston” with a heart logo. Each shirt can be bought and printed by participating running stores, and sold for $20. The proceeds will be donated to the One Boston Fund, created by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino for the victims of the April 15 bombings. (New Balance also contributed $1 million to the fund on Monday.)

“The Boston Marathon is sort of the founding father of marathons,” Hartner said. 
“Most of our stores wouldn’t be here today without events like that.”

Hartner said the original batch of 500 T-shirts in his Naperville, Ill., store sold out in 70 minutes on Saturday morning, with a line of customers around the block waiting to buy them. The shop is ordering 400 more, he said. His store also hosted a “Runners for Boston” solidarity run on Monday night.

“We all feel horrible about what happened and are part of that community, and customers want to do something,” Hartner said. “The runs are for solidarity, a way to get together with community. And the T-shirts you can wear around. People want to be able to show support.”

Gazelle Sports also was hosting a run on Monday at all three of its Western Michigan locations, according to Tiler Webster, administrative director for community outreach. She said preliminary RSVPs numbered more than 1,300 runners across the three doors, and the stores had 700 shirts ready for runners to buy at the event.

Maine Running Co., based in Portland, Maine, is hosting a “Runners for Boston” race on April 29, and owner John Rogers said he expects more than 500 people to participate. Rogers said his store plans to sell the “Runners for Boston” T-shirt, as well as a slightly different version that calls out runners from the community who ran in the 2013 Boston Marathon.

“I think what shocks people is that any of us could have been there on any given day,” Rogers said. He added that mobilizing the running community to support the marathoners and the city of Boston was a way to show support in the face of terrorist acts. “We can’t let people dictate when, where, how and how often we accept challenges in our life.”

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