Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

I'm running a marathon for Boston

By John D. Sutter, CNN
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Wed April 17, 2013
CNN iReport is asking people to run a marathon (or a shorter race) in solidarity with Boston bombing victims.
CNN iReport is asking people to run a marathon (or a shorter race) in solidarity with Boston bombing victims.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Runners are hitting the road in support of Boston bombing victims
  • John Sutter: I'm pledging to run a marathon by April 2014; join me
  • Sign up for the CNN iReport challenge: Run for Boston 2014
  • Sutter says the #runforboston hashtag led to the challenge

Editor's note: John D. Sutter is a human rights and social change columnist at CNN Opinion. E-mail him at CTL@CNN.com or follow him on Twitter (@jdsutter), Facebook or Google+.

(CNN) -- Only a few hours had passed after the Boston Marathon bombing, which killed three people and injured hundreds, when this little nugget of inspiration showed up in my Twitter feed:

"Back home. You know what? I'm going for a run. Definitely."

John D. Sutter
John D. Sutter

That tweet is from Peter Vigneron, a writer who was at the marathon when the bombs went off. Luckily, as he writes on his blog, he was far enough from the blasts to be safe.

As the hours went by I started to see more online posts like that -- runners in Boston and elsewhere making pledges to lace up their sneakers and hit the road. It felt like a groundswell of grass-roots action, a collective statement that this tragedy, no matter who perpetrated it or why, wasn't going to stop people from doing what they love.

iReport: Run for Boston 2014

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



By Tuesday, people from Hong Kong, India, Canada, England, Croatia, Brazil, Mexico, Russia and the Netherlands were using the hashtag #runforboston and a Google doc created by CNN iReporter Becca Obergefell to log their journeys.

The momentum has been building. As of early Tuesday afternoon, 360 people had logged more than 1,200 running miles on Obergefell's page.

People also have been sharing their stories with her.

"I ran to clear my head, but it didn't work. So I ran because I could. Because the freedom of running wasn't taken away from me. Because the running community stretches to all cities and all places, and I'm glad to be a part of it," one person wrote to Obergefell, a 26-year-old in Columbus, Ohio.

Boston remembers the bombing victims
Chinese student killed in Boston bombing

I heard these stories and got inspired.

That's why I'm pledging to run a marathon in honor of Boston -- and, since I'm kind of a couch potato, I'm going to pledge to do it by April 15, 2014, the 1-year anniversary of the tragedy.

I'd like to invite you to do the same.

Sign up by going to the "Run for Boston 2014" page on CNN iReport and uploading a photo of you and your running shoes. Alternatively, post the photo to Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #runforboston and #cnnireport.

If you're so inclined, tell us why you're running.

You don't have to pledge to run a marathon. Run a mile or a 5K -- or do a walk. The important thing is to get out there and get moving. Do it for Boston. Do it for your health. Or, if you use the simple app called Charity Miles, you can do it to raise money for one of the several worthy charities it features.

I'm doing it because I feel like I've got to do something. It's been 12 years since 9/11 and 18 years since the Oklahoma City bombing. I was safely miles away, in a middle school classroom, when a bomb exploded in downtown Oklahoma City, killing 168. But that morning is stuck in my memory forever. I'm running because I don't want any of these tragedies to change me or to change us as a people -- to make us afraid, to keep us indoors.

I am by no means a regular runner -- or even a runner at all. One of my friends saw a post about this idea on Facebook and thought I was joking. So please don't feel shy about signing up to do something new. I have no idea what I'm getting myself into -- and I think that's probably a good thing, at least for now.

CNN also hopes to make a video about the collective journey -- and I'm running to see what it will be like to (hopefully) complete this challenge as a group.

I could go on, but instead I'm going to go take a photo with my sneakers.

And then hit the sidewalk.

I hope you'll do the same.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of John D. Sutter.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:53 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Jeff Yang calls Ello a wakeup call to Facebook and Twitter, and a sign of hope for fast-rising upstarts Pinterest and Snapchat.
updated 6:48 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Paul Waldman says the Secret Service should examine its procedures to make sure there are no threats to the White House--but without losing the openness so valuable to democracy
updated 4:49 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Jesse Williams says the videotape and 911 call that resulted in police gunning down John Crawford at a Walmart reveals the fatal injustice of racial assumptions
updated 7:03 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Mel Robbins says officials should drop the P.C. pose: The beheading in Oklahoma was not workplace violence. Plenty of evidence shows Alton Nolen was an admirer of ISIS.
updated 3:11 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
The Occupy Central movement has already achieved much by bringing greater attention to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, William Piekos says..
updated 3:11 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
The Occupy Central movement has already achieved much by bringing greater attention to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, writes William Piekos.
updated 10:13 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits America, Madeleine Albright says a world roiled by conflict needs these two great democracies to commit to moving their partnership forward
updated 10:04 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
John Sutter: Lake Providence, Louisiana, is the parish seat of the "most unequal place in America." And until somewhat recently, the poor side of town was invisible on Google Street View.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Julian Zelizer says in the run up to the 2016 election the party faces divisions on its approach to the U.S.'s place in the world
updated 10:19 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says Common Core supporters can't devise a new set of standards and then fail to effectively sell it.
updated 9:29 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Earlier this month, Kenyans commemorated the heinous attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.
updated 2:59 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
David Wheeler says Colorado students are right to protest curriculum changes that downplays civil disobedience.
updated 9:58 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Sally Kohn says when people click on hacked celebrity photos or ISIS videos, they are encouraging the bad guys.
updated 7:55 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Loren Bunche says she walked by a homeless man every day and felt bad about it -- until one day she paused to get to know him
updated 9:32 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
ISIS grabs headlines on social media, but hateful speech is no match for moderate voices, says Nadia Oweidat.
updated 8:33 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
A new report counts jihadists fighting globally. The verdict? The threat isn't that big, says Peter Bergen.
updated 5:37 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Ebola could become the biggest humanitarian disaster in a generation, writes former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
updated 12:58 PM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
ISIS has shocked the world. But will releasing videos of executions backfire? Four experts give their take.
updated 10:39 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Eric Holder kicked off his stormy tenure as attorney general with a challenge to the public that set tone for six turbulent years as top law-enforcement officer.
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
LZ Granderson says Obama was elected as a war-ending change agent, not a leader who would leave behind for his successor new engagement in Iraq and Syria. Is he as disappointed as the rest of us?
updated 5:10 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
Gayle Lemmon says the question now is how to translate all the high-profile feminizing into real gains for women
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT