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Racing to remember victims of 9/11/2001

Article - Friday, September 16, 2011

Arlington County hosted the 10th Arlington Police, Fire and Sheriff 9/11 5K Sept. 10 in Crystal City. With 4,212 finishers the race went off with gusto at 6 p.m.

The race, according to the website, originated after Capt. Matt Smith and Detective Dan Borrelli returned from a New York run and decided that Arlington should host a race leading to the inception of the first 9/11 5K in Arlington County. All proceeds go to 9/11 related charities.

This year, the race closed out at 5,000 runners, one of which was Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall’s Jeff Wood, Directorate of Emergency Service.

“It was a solemn time, and I think everybody had a good time but at the same time didn’t lose sight of what we were running for,” said Wood.

Along with a few dozen other fire and law enforcement teams, the Arlington County Fire Department had two teams running this year; one being the firefighters and the other, the recruit class 68.

“The recruit class created their own team … as a recruit you also support the department and the cause,” said Lt. Amanda Murphy, who also ran to support her department and all the people who were at the Pentagon that day.

The 3.1 mile course started runners down Army Navy Drive, taking a left onto 12th Street South under a bridge, then taking a right down Crystal Drive where runners turned and looped around to run back up Crystal Drive shortly before 23rd Street South.

Making their way back up 12th Street south and Army Navy Drive, the next part of the run took racers around south parking in the Pentagon lot, and exiting the parking lot back onto Army Navy Drive to the finish line. The first to cross was Patrick Fernandez, 24, from Alexandria, with a gun time of 00:16:01.2.

Along the way runners had a chance to remember and reflect on the events that happened 10 years ago, and where they were when it happened. For Megan Phillips and Diana Swanson, they were waiting in line for the White House Tour when they noticed a low-flying plane. “We saw it dive, you could tell it was intentional,” said Phillips. “People started to run. We didn’t find out about New York until a cop told us.”

Since then, the two girls have gone to Shanksville, Pa., or Washington D.C., for the anniversaries, travelling all the way from Ohio to partake in events. Jay Jacob Wind, who has participated in the race since its inception, runs with a list of the 184 victims – “Because we should always remember and never forget,” he said. Having lost a friend and running buddy in the World Trade Center, Wind had said if he was in New York, he would run with a board listing all the victims in New York. “We were all changed by this tragedy. It’s a real honor to those we lost that thousands have come out today to honor them,” concluded Wind.

Asked why she was there, Kim Hall said, “So we could remember our friend’s brother who was killed in the twin towers. Matthew McDermott, [34, an equity trader from New Jersey].”

“Its 10 years, that’s pretty significant. It opens up a lot of fresh wounds for people. It still feels like it was yesterday,” she said.