He doesn't need to know their names.
Step by step, mile by mile, it's enough for Constantine Chrysochoos to know that moms and dads sent their children off to school that sunny Sept. 11, 2001, morning but never returned for good night kisses.
That dozens of emergency workers rushed in one last time and never made it to another roll call.
That medical examiner staff in New York continue today - nearly three years after planes slammed the World Trade Towers, the Pentagon, and a quiet field in Shanksville, Pa. - the painstaking task of identifying more than 11,100 shreds of still-unidentified human remains.
"Someone told me last year: 'Come on, it's been two years. Can't we move on? Get over it?' " says Mr. Chrysochoos, a longtime runner and fifth grade teacher at Northwood's Lark Elementary School who is now running a mile for every victim of the attacks.
He shakes his head.
"I don't want to forget."
With less than five months to go before the New York City Marathon, Mr. Chrysochoos, 36, is nearing the end of a three-year, 3,033-mile quest that began in the predawn stillness the day after the attacks.
Unable to sleep, Mr. Chrysochoos sat on the front steps of his West Toledo home and stared at a bright moon.
Inside, his wife, daughter, and newborn son slept. He wept.
"I thought of my kids," he said. "I wanted to know what kind of world are we in now."
He stood, and his size 10 1/2 ASICS hit the sidewalk.
Mr. Chrysochoos began to tally each mile: one mile, he vowed that morning, for each victim.
The number of victims has been adjusted several times - the current count is just under 3,000 - but Mr. Chrysochoos quickly settled at the number he heard again and again following the attacks: 3,033 victims.
Running later that year, another idea struck. Returning home, Mr. Chrysochoos grabbed his running log book, a calendar, and a calculator, and quickly figured he'd finish his goal on the fourth anniversary of the attacks.
His goal further solidified, he kept running.
"Then one day he says to me 'I think I should run the [New York] marathon,' " his wife, Tracy, recalls. "So then he figured out he could finish the miles in a marathon."
Now armed with a 735.2-mile marathon training schedule, Mr. Chrysachoos says his finish line has begun to materialize.
On Nov. 7, Mr. Chrysochoos will join about 35,000 other runners for the 26.2-mile run through New York.
If he follows his running schedule, his final footsteps that day will complete the 3,033 miles.
Granted, it's not unusual that marathon runners are driven by a memory or charity, but those athletes usually are seeking awareness or funds or a public tribute for their cause, said New York Marathon spokesman Maeve Mullally.
Rather Mr. Chrysochoos' quest is more of a personal catharsis: "It's almost my way," he says, "of dealing with it a little each day."
He seems surprised when asked if it's odd that he's running in memory of people he's never met. They were like most of us, he explains simply.
"They went to work that day, and then ," he shrugs, leaving the thought dangling.
At the marathon's office, Ms. Mullally said she's surprised at Mr. Chrysochoos' dedication. Though many athletes ran in memory of the Sept. 11 victims during the 2001 event, "since then, it has become less of a subject."
She said she has heard of no one this year who is running in memory of those victims.
These days, Mr. Chrysochoos' commitment can be measured in painstaking exactness: 2,305.8 miles as of Thursday, more than a dozen running shirts, and five pairs of ASICS.
As he retires each pair of shoes, he pens the number of miles on each with a permanent black marker.
He measures his time in other ways too. Daughter, Lauren, 8, now keeps pace with him on her purple bicycle. Son, Dominick, 2, rolls along in the jogging stroller.
On the quieter runs, he thinks of the youngsters who never saw their parents again, or the grown children who never made it home that Thanksgiving. Nameless, they nonetheless accompany him on each run.
"At night, if I'm alone and it's a cloudless sky, I'll look up: 'I'm doing this for you guys,' " he said. In the coming New York run, "I know they'll be pushing me toward the end."
Contact Robin Erb at: email@example.com or 419-724-6133.