Tim Kubick / For The Lantern
Two Ohio half-marathons are expecting large turnouts this weekend to show support for the victims of the Boston Marathon.
The Earth Day Challenge Half Marathon & 4 Mile Run in Gambier, Ohio, and the Tri-Country Trail Half Marathon and 5K in Frankfort, Ohio, have seen an increase in entries since the bombings near the finish line that resulted in three deaths and more than 170 injuries on Monday.
FBI officials identified two potential suspects Thursday afternoon through the use of surveillance footage in the area where the bomb blasts occurred and released the photos and video of the suspects.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a 26-year-old man who had been identified by the FBI as Suspect No. 1, was killed Thursday night after an encounter with police, according to multiple reports. His brother, Dzhozkar Tsarnaev, a 19-year-old college student identified as Suspect No. 2, escaped.
Boston residents have been told by authorities to stay indoors and all mass transit has been suspended as police search the city for Dzhozkar Tsarnaev.
Meanwhile, in Ohio, organizers are seeing race registration numbers jump.
“We are expecting a record turnout,” said Earth Day Challenge race director John Hofferberth. “We saw more registrations after the events had taken place in Boston. I think we are going to see more people out than we have ever seen before.”
Hofferberth said this is a tribute to the attitude of the running community.
“Some people that are outside the running community expected that people would shy away, but that’s not how runners behave,” Hofferberth said.
It cost $60 to enter the Earth Day Challenge Half Marathon, and $25 for students. The 4-mile race costs $25 or $15 to enter. The Tri-Country Trail Half Marathon costs $30 for adults and $25 for students, and the 5K costs $20 and $15, respectively.
Jo Sager, race director of the Tri-County Trail races, said registration for the event has remained high throughout the week, even with race day approaching.
Both races have added special tributes that include a moment of silence to honor those who were affected by the tragedy.
People at the Earth Day Challenge will be handing out blue and yellow ribbons for runners to wear during the race, while Tri-County Trail organizers are encouraging supporters to bring American flags.
“I think that heightening the patriotism in these settings is fine,” said Tri-County Trail participant Greg Sparks. “Any support we show to people who have experienced tragedies is good.”
The Earth Day Challenge is expecting to host between 500 to 600 runners and the Tri-County Trail is expecting about 200 runners. Although the races are much smaller than the Boston Marathon, Hofferberth said increased security has been considered.
“We obviously have had to take a second look at security to make sure that we are doing everything possible to keep the environment as safe as possible,” Hofferberth said.
He said there will be more security personnel walking around and the local police department will be present.
This year the Earth Day Challenge will also be adding a required bag check to any bags that runners will be leaving in the post-race pick-up area.
Both race directors agreed, while the events that occurred in Boston will be on the minds of those running, it won’t bring a negative mood to the weekend races.
“We are going to be thinking outward more about our extended running community and the fact that they are hurting.,” Hofferberth said. “It’s more important that we hold it together and support them.”