In the moments before the start of the Medical Mutual Glass City Marathon, more than 1,000 runners lined up along Stadium Drive at the University of Toledo.
Above them, a plane circled the campus and the Glass Bowl, towing an American flag and a banner that read “4-15-13.”
The date was significant in the running community, as it marked an unparalleled tragedy in the sport. Race officials, runners, and spectators observed a moment of silence Sunday morning in honor of the victims of a bombing two weeks ago at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
Three people were killed and more than 260 injured, according to various media reports, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of two alleged bombers, was charged last week by federal authorities with using a weapon of mass destruction and malicious destruction of property.
“When I first heard about it, it really hit home for me,” said Evan Gaynor, who won the men’s marathon. “Sports is one of the most beautiful things that we have.
"The ancient Olympic Games, they would stop all wars and battles in ancient Greece, just so the games could begin, so war had no place, violence had no place in athletics. Just to have something like that happen in our sport is very sad.”
The Glass City Marathon is a qualifier for the 2014 Boston Marathon and drew more than 1,300 marathon runners, as well as nearly 2,700 half-marathon runners, and nearly 1,300 5K participants, according to race organizers.
“You have to think about the people who lost their lives,” said Julius Kiptoo, who won the men’s half-marathon. “I was running, hoping that I’m keeping a lot of their hopes with me.”
Still, marathons around the world have rallied for the spirit of Boston.
In Toledo, runners at Sunday’s Glass City Marathon wore T-shirts that read “Boston Strong” or “Believe in Boston,” and others sported Boston Red Sox baseball caps.
Gaynor believes that the bombings of two weeks ago won’t shake the running community. Instead, he said, it should strengthen it.
“We’ll bounce back,” Gaynor said. “We’ll keep running in their honor and and in their remembrance.”
ON THE COURSE: Robin Mower, a 48-year-old Toledo resident who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neurological disease more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, completed the 26.2-mile marathon course in 3:55.22 — with a little help from her friends.
Mower, who is an ALS awareness advocate, rode in a specialized wheelchair that was pushed by Dr. Jeff Galvin, a physician from Cleveland who also does work with ALS awareness, and several runners surrounded Mower and also took turns pushing her during the course of the race.
YOUNGSTERS: Among the runners in was 11-year-old Bret Fry, a Toledo resident who ran the half marathon in 2:07.20.
“It was hard,” Fry said. “You had to run 13.1 miles and you had to go up and down the hills. The rain felt good.”
Fry’s motivation for running his first half-marathon was simple.
“I wanted to try it, to see if I could do it,” he said. “I’ll probably do it again.”
MED CHECK: With the cold and rainy weather Sunday morning, many of the runners inside of the medical tent at the Glass Bowl were treated for chills and exhaustion, said Dr. Nael Bahhur, who supervised the medical tent.
Dr. Bahhur also said that four runners had to be taken to local hospitals by ambulance for various ailments, including exhaustion and disorientation.
Five support (SAG) wagons were stationed along the 26.2-mile marathon course, in addition to water stops and ambulance crews.