BOSTON (AP) - Hundreds of runners are gearing up for a four-week, coast-to-coast relay race to honor three people killed in the Boston Marathon bombings and raise money for 260 people wounded when twin explosions went off near the finish line of the world's oldest marathon.
Organizers are pushing to raise $1 million from this year's One Run for Boston, which is scheduled to finish a week before the storied Boston Marathon and two days before the anniversary of the explosions. The money will go to The One Fund, a charity established to help those who were injured or significantly affected by the bombings.
The relay race was inspired by the surprising success of a similar event last year that attracted more than six times the minimum 319 runners organizers said were necessary for it to be successful. It raised $91,000 - nearly five times more than organizers' goal.
The race will go through the same 14 states as last year. The route, however, has been pushed farther south through Arizona and New Mexico to avoid the risk of ice and cold weather during the race. The relay is scheduled to begin March 16 in Santa Monica, Calif., and end April 13 on the scenic Charles River Esplanade, site of the renowned Boston Pops July 4th concert, organizer Kate Treleaven said by telephone from her home near Totnes, a town in Devon County, England.
The race is divided into 330 segments, with an average length of 10 miles. Organizers hope runners will keep an average pace of 10 minutes per mile. The speed, however, is slower in 10 segments designed to allow groups of runners to get together - enabling more bombing survivors and slower runners to participate, get to know each other and even take souvenir photos.
The final part of last year's relay race followed the route of the Boston Marathon and crossed the finish line on Boylston Street.
Last year's relay was hastily organized by Treleaven and two other friends who also live in England. They didn't attempt to get permits from authorities in towns along the route, Treleaven said.
The event ended with about 1,000 race participants running down Boylston Street at midnight, she said.
"When we asked if we could do that again this coming year, so close to the marathon, it was a big, fat 'No' from the police and city of Boston," she said.
Still, that hasn't dampened enthusiasm for the nonprofit event.
About 600 runners had signed up for the race by Friday morning, six days after a website debuted for participants to register and collect sponsorship pledges.
One of them is Joan Meagher of Boston, who said the explosions occurred 10 days after her mother died and a friend's husband and son were injured in the blasts.
That experience plunged her in a deep depression.
"I was in such a bad, bad place ... and this relay pulled me out of it when nothing else was working," Meagher said.
More on One Run For Boston: www.onerunforboston.org
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