By Jessica Tuggle
VERO BEACH -- The morning sky was still dark and hearts were heavy, but the steady pounding of dozens of sneakers on pavement in Riverside Park showed Indian River County runners standing in solidarity with Boston Marathon runners who were blindsided with an attack last week.
At 5:30 a.m. on April 18, close to 100 runners and community members ran one mile in complete silence to remember the people affected, injured or killed during the twin bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15.
Five runners from Vero Beach and one from Sebastian participated in the iconic American race, and all six were uninjured, though not all were allowed to finish the marathon. Several of the participants came out to the "Mile of Silence" run and expressed their appreciation for the love of their home community in this way.
"We are all runners. We all have friends and family that wait to meet us at the finish line. We might not have been there at that time, but we've all been there," said Linda Soresi, a Mile of Silence participant.
"At any given time, it could have been any one of us," said Bob Roth, another participant.
Event organizer Brooke Malone of Vero Beach recently started running, and when she heard about the bombing she was horrified and heartbroken.
"I'm new to running, very, very new, and I feel like I chose a place to call my playground and on Monday someone entered this playground and made a mess," Ms. Malone said.
She was motivated to do something to help, but didn't know what to do.
"I said, well, we're runners, so we run," Ms. Malone said.
What started off as a plan for a small group of friends to run together exploded into a group of 100 or more people wanting to run to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing after news of the run spread to social media.
"It was way beyond my control," Ms. Malone said.
Jeri Lynn Kranze was a half-mile from completing her first Boston Marathon when the bombs went off at the finish line and she was redirected off the course and not allowed to complete her run.
"It was very comforting to come home and have that (run). I felt loved and very thankful," Mrs. Kranze said.
On the day of the bombing, her thoughts went to her husband, Richard Kranze, who was supposed to be waiting for her at the finish line.
"I wanted to get out of there, I didn't want to be trapped," Mrs. Kranze said.
She began making her way slowly back toward her hotel. Unbeknownst to her, that was exactly the path her husband was taking as well.
"I was on the bleachers directly across from the first blast. I jumped down and saw a lot of blood and so on, and I was on the street when the second one went off, and I thought she might have been there because she was due to finish soon," Mr. Kranze said.
Law enforcement and emergency services personnel were redirecting pedestrians, so Mr. Kranze began walking the streets back to his hotel, where he and other friends were staying.
"About an hour and 10 minutes later, I saw her beautiful red hair and I ran toward her and kissed her and hugged her and we were together again," Mr. Kranze said.
After the run, the runners sang a spontaneous a cappella rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner." Then, the group dispersed just as quickly as they arrived.
Some continued running, while others headed toward their vehicles and back to their families, their jobs and their lives. But the reason for their run that morning would never be forgotten.