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Austin Runners Lace Up Sneakers for Boston Marathon Victims

Though most of the hundreds of people who turned out regularly go running with their groups, Thursday night’s event was different.

Participants and organizers say at least 600 people RSVP’d on Facebook. Scores of neon-dressed participants gathered at around 8 p.m. in the parking lot near Austin High School on Cesar Chavez.

Some wore their marathon jackets and numbers. Many people hugged, held hands, waved across the parking lot to one another and several wiped away tears.

Gilbert Tuhabonye was one of the event’s organizers.  He’s the founder of Gilbert’s Gazelles, a large Central Texas training group.

"You know, when you see what happened, we can’t let this bother people, stop what we’re doing," Tuhabonye said. "We’ve got to keep going. And the best way to do it is to bring everybody together. And then the second thing is to be able to remember the people that died. Because it could have been one of us. And we’re so lucky, so blessed to be together and united with our family."

Pat Birch has run 26 marathons. He’s 20 minutes shy of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.

"You know, the tragedy in Boston and now in West, Texas – we want to do something to support that," Birch said. "This incident -- I’m not the only one -- but it has given me more incentive to try to qualify."

Laura Carpenter wiped tears from her eyes. She just came back from Boston, where she went to support a friend who ran the marathon.

"I’m just…It’s hard to put in words the feelings that we’re going through," Carpenter said. "I mean, traumatized is the best thing I can say. And it feels good to be around people that are supporting each other and are here not only for the running community but us as Americans."

Before the runners took off, they took 26 moments of silence, one for each mile of the marathon. Then listened to "Amazing Grace," played by Nathan Kwan from the Capitol City Highlanders.

Three miles later, runners and walkers met up at the parking lot again, long after the sun had set. In the darkness, all you could see was a sea of neon glow sticks around their necks.

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