The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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June 18, 2013

Local runners show support for Boston in cross-country relay

JOPLIN, Mo. — After completing the Boston Marathon on April 15, Ashleigh Beyersdorfer made her way through the throngs of runners to retrieve the bag she had checked in and was on her way to meet up with her family when she heard the explosions.

“I heard both of them. You could feel it, but there was so much noise that I didn’t even flinch,” she said. “No one else did either. There was a massive crowd of people, just shoulder to shoulder, and everybody kept walking.”

Soon after, Beyersdorfer watched as a woman with a phone pressed to her face pushed upstream through the crowd. She had a frantic expression on her face, and she was saying something about bombs having gone off.

Moments later, the sound of approaching sirens and helicopters could be heard from nearly every direction.

“I knew something major had happened,” Beyersdorfer said. “I walked around for two hours trying to get a taxi. When I got to the hotel, I saw it was a terrorist attack.”

Beyersdorfer, the owner of Joplin’s Starlit Running Co., said her initial reaction was fear. But it quickly gave way to anger, and then resolve to do something to help.

She found a way to lend her support through the One Run for Boston.

The nonstop running relay began June 7 in Los Angeles and is scheduled to end Sunday, June 30, in Boston. More than 1,000 runners across the country are taking part, with each one making a contribution to the One Fund Boston, which was established to help victims of the bombing and their families.

At 8 p.m. Wednesday, Beyersdorfer is scheduled to take the baton for a nine-mile run from Afton to Fairland, Okla., before handing it off to the next runner.

She’s not alone in her efforts. A number of area runners are scheduled to help carry the baton as the relay passes through the region.

Louis Niewald, president of the Joplin Roadrunners, said he first found out about the event through a link on Facebook. After learning more about it, he was eager to participate.

He will be running a 12.5-mile leg, from Vinita to Afton, starting at 6:25 p.m. Wednesday.

“I think this will be a good event to show our camaraderie with other runners across the country,” he said. “I feel like it’s part of Boston getting back in the saddle again. I think with next year’s marathon they’ll officially be back in the saddle, but this is America’s contribution to helping them.”

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