Running community united in Cumming after Boston Marathon bombing
Set up finish line for returning runner


April 24, 2013

CUMMING, Ga. — Runners share a secret, one of strength, compassion and fierce loyalty.

They run.

They run for fun, to raise money, to eliminate stress, to stay in shape and because they can.

It’s just what they do. So when the Boston Marathon came under terrorist attack April 15, runners everywhere ran.

“The day of the bombing, runners ran, and the next morning, we ran again and we will continue to run too, because if we don’t, then they win,” Sali McCahill, of Cumming, said.

McCahill and others celebrated local runners who participated in the Boston Marathon at a party hosted by Totally Running, 405 Peachtree Parkway in Cumming, on April 18.

“We don’t want to discuss the bombing,” Alex Rodriguez, Totally Running co-owner, said. “We want to celebrate our runners.”

And celebrate, they did.

About 30 residents from the area showed up to offer well wishes for marathon participants Laura Semanson, Shane Sweet and Ginny Westerby.

Sweet and Westerby were able to finish the 26.6-mile run before the bombs went off, but Semanson was not.

At the local festivities, Semanson ran through the finish line outside of Totally Running.

“We’re glad they’re safe and want runners everywhere to know we’re supporting them, whether they’re running in a marathon or down their street,” Rodriguez said. “We’re a family and we won’t let this tragedy stop us from doing what we love.”

Friends created a finish line sign and posted an approximate finish time, and Semanson ran across the line to a cheering crowd.

“We wanted her to finish,” McCahill said. “Every runner deserves to cross the finish line and every runner deserves their medal.”

“This is good,” McCahill said. “Everyone is happy and grateful they’re home and OK.”

In front of a cheering crowd, Westerby gave Semanson her medal.

“This is wonderful,” Semanson said.

This article was published in the Forsyth Herald April 23, 2013 edition