Jonathan Volpi easily defended his Mercedes-Benz Corporate Run title tonight, but when the Boca Raton runner darted past the finish line his mind was nearly 1,500 miles away.
Just two days earlier other runners didn’t make it to the finish line when two bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon killing three people and injuring more than 170 others.
“The starting line, the finish line, you think about it,” Volpi said.
Today’s race at the West Palm Beach waterfront was a 5K run with 1,100 runners — not anywhere near the size or scope of the Boston Marathon.
But Boston was the theme at the 28th Annual Corporate Run with some runners expressing the tension of running in a public race so soon after the tragic events in Boston while others paid tribute to the victims.
Runners from NCCI, a workers compensation information provider, wore stickers on their race boots supporting Boston and had poster boards for people to send messages of support to a recovering city. The company is going to send the posters to the city of Boston after the race.
“There’s so much disbelief and sadness,” said Kristen Mager, a marketing consultant for NCCI. “I’m a marathon runner, and it affected me. We wanted to support Boston in any way and show them that South Florida is behind them.”
Race officials announced Tuesday that they would have extra security on site.
But West Palm Beach’s mayor, police chief, fire chief, emergency operations director and parks and recreation director held their own news conference this morning saying they would have the regular amount of security on hand and wouldn’t add any additional detail. They encouraged participants to have fun and said they will pay tribute to Boston at Thursday’s Clematis By Night event.
Emotions were mixed at the race.
“It’s hard not to think about safety here,” said Janice Douglas, an accountant with Island Hospitality, before the race. “Last week I wasn’t thinking about safety. But now I just hope and pray there’s no one crazy here that will do something stupid. I’ve run a half marathon before and it’s hard to believe something like that actually happened.”
Michael Truglio, a quality tech for dental implant company Biomet 3I, said he wasn’t worried.
“One of my teammates asked ‘what if there’s a copycat there?’” Truglio said. “But I said if someone really wanted to be a copycat, they’d do it for a big race like the one in London this weekend, not a little 5k.”
Life goes on said Kelly Cavaleri, a community relations specialist for NCCI, and today’s race was an important step.
“You can’t give them what they want by freezing life,” she said. “That’s the reason we’ve come together. A lot of the runners in Boston were supporting charity, which is even worse. They were helping others in need and now they’re in need.”