‘Running makes sense out of things that are completely senseless’

Memers of the Fishtown Beer Runners including Lee Porter, far left, and Suzanne Allaire, far right, who ran in support of Boston bombing victims last Thursday. MIKALA JAMISON / STAR PHOTO

The Fishtown Beer Runners were among 30 city running groups that ran in support of the city of Boston last Thursday, after the bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 15.

As the sun began to set over 7th and Bainbridge streets in Center City last Thursday, it cast a golden glow over the people on the corner, who were busy gathering, chatting, and stretching.

There was a quite obvious sense of friendliness and community in the air as runners from all over the city, outfitted in brightly colored gear, some with Boston-themed T-shirts and hats, got ready to take off.

Preparing for a run was nothing new to these athletes. As they bent into calf and quadriceps stretches and shook out their bodies’ fatigue on the sidewalk, though, it was clear this run was different.

It was for Boston.

The Fishtown Beer Runners were among the 30 running groups that gathered at various meeting points to begin the citywide run of solidarity.

Running groups ran to City Hall to gather at 7:30 p.m., then ran as a large group down Market Street to Independence Mall.

Fishtown Beer Runners was co-founded in 2007 by Eric Fiedler and David April, and gathers once a week to run three to five miles. The group concludes each run at a pub for a beer or two — “quality beer,” that is, in a responsible manner, April said.

On Thursday, FBR gathered at its usual meeting place for weekly runs, 2346 E. Susquehanna Ave., and another group took off from 7th and Bainbridge streets. April said that about 70 to 80 people, including 10 to 15 new runners, took off from

Susquehanna Avenue, and about eight others left from Bainbridge Street.

“It’s not solely about running or having a beer,” April said of the group. “It’s about community.”

Never was that more evident, perhaps, than at Thursday’s run.

“It was amazing, such a moving experience to see everybody running, then feeling this camaraderie and support of all the runners,” April said in a phone interview Friday.

“Normally runners run for themselves or for charities…this was running a race for the running community,” April continued.

On Bainbridge Street, Beer Runners shared their thoughts about the day’s run, the Beer Runners group and the running community as a whole.

Lee Porter, of Center City, who has been a FBR member for three years, told Star Thursday that the group has become like a family. He’s run with FBR as part of several events, including the annual Fishtown Shadfest.

Porter said running is like a substitute for therapy, and Thursday’s run was marked by a great sense of community.

“Everyone seems to be touched personally, just as runners,” he said.

Suzanne Allaire of East Falls, a FBR member who ran Thursday with her 9-year-old daughter, is originally from a community just an hour north of Boston.

Allaire said she remembers years of having the day off for Patriot’s Day to watch the Boston Marathon. She had close friends who were running in the race, but said they are all safe. There were hours, though, Allaire said, of panicky uncertainty.

“I just sat in front of my computer with my hands in front of my face for hours, and cried,” she said of watching the tragic events in Boston unfold.

Thursday’s run, Allaire said, helped ease her mind.

“Running makes sense out of things that are completely senseless,” she said.

One Fishtown Beer Runner, Fitler Square resident Mary Pelak, finished the Boston Marathon this year.

Pelak told WHYY’s Newsworks on April 15, “I felt so thrilled and celebratory when I finished [the marathon] and then it just doesn’t matter now.”

April said when he spoke with Pelak, she said the Thursday run was a moving experience that was helping her heal.

“I was very happy to know that our group had some part in that effect,” April said.

April said he and other organizers of the run were pleasantly surprised by how many runners participated.

“It just shows that runners are caring, compassionate, community-minded people that are not going to be deterred by negative events,” he said.

“We like to jaw about competition of cities [like Boston and Philadelphia],” April continued, “But when it comes down to it, we are united.”

Visit Fishtown Beer Runners at fishtownbeerrunners.com.

Managing Editor Mikala Jamison can be reached at 215–354–3113 or at mjamison@bsmphilly.com.