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 8:27 PM EST, Fri December 26, 2014
The ability to manipulate media and technology has increasingly become a critical strategic resource, says Jeff Yang.
updated 11:17 AM EST, Fri December 26, 2014
Today's politicians should follow Ronald Reagan's advice and invest in science, research and development, Fareed Zakaria says.
updated 8:19 AM EST, Fri December 26, 2014
Artificial intelligence does not need to be malevolent to be catastrophically dangerous to humanity, writes Greg Scoblete.
updated 10:05 AM EST, Fri December 26, 2014
Historian Douglas Brinkley says a showing of Sony's film in Austin helped keep the city weird -- and spotlighted the heroes who stood up for free expression
updated 8:03 AM EST, Fri December 26, 2014
Tanya Odom that by calling only on women at his press conference, the President made clear why women and people of color should be more visible in boardrooms and conferences
updated 8:12 AM EST, Fri December 26, 2014
When oil spills happen, researchers are faced with the difficult choice of whether to use chemical dispersants, authors say
updated 1:33 AM EST, Thu December 25, 2014
Danny Cevallos says the legislature didn't have to get involved in regulating how people greet each other
updated 6:12 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Marc Harrold suggests a way to move forward after the deaths of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.
updated 8:36 AM EST, Wed December 24, 2014
Simon Moya-Smith says Mah-hi-vist Goodblanket, who was killed by law enforcement officers, deserves justice.
updated 2:14 PM EST, Wed December 24, 2014
Val Lauder says that for 1,700 years, people have been debating when, and how, to celebrate Christmas
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Raphael Sperry says architects should change their ethics code to ban involvement in designing torture chambers
updated 10:35 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Paul Callan says Sony is right to call for blocking the tweeting of private emails stolen by hackers
updated 7:57 AM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
As Christmas arrives, eyes turn naturally toward Bethlehem. But have we got our history of Christmas right? Jay Parini explores.
updated 11:29 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
The late Joe Cocker somehow found himself among the rock 'n' roll aristocracy who showed up in Woodstock to help administer a collective blessing upon a generation.
updated 4:15 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
History may not judge Obama kindly on Syria or even Iraq. But for a lame duck president, he seems to have quacking left to do, says Aaron Miller.
updated 1:11 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Terrorism and WMD -- it's easy to understand why these consistently make the headlines. But small arms can be devastating too, says Rachel Stohl.
updated 1:08 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Ever since "Bridge-gate" threatened to derail Chris Christie's chances for 2016, Jeb Bush has been hinting he might run. Julian Zelizer looks at why he could win.
updated 1:53 PM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
New York's decision to ban hydraulic fracturing was more about politics than good environmental policy, argues Jeremy Carl.
updated 3:19 PM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
On perhaps this year's most compelling drama, the credits have yet to roll. But we still need to learn some cyber lessons to protect America, suggest John McCain.
updated 5:39 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Conservatives know easing the trade embargo with Cuba is good for America. They should just admit it, says Fareed Zakaria.
updated 8:12 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
We're a world away from Pakistan in geography, but not in sentiment, writes Donna Brazile.
updated 12:09 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
How about a world where we have murderers but no murders? The police still chase down criminals who commit murder, we have trials and justice is handed out...but no one dies.
updated 6:45 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
The U.S. must respond to North Korea's alleged hacking of Sony, says Christian Whiton. Failing to do so will only embolden it.
updated 4:34 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
President Obama has been flexing his executive muscles lately despite Democrat's losses, writes Gloria Borger
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT