by Dennis Dalman
Erin Lemke of Sartell missed qualifying for the Boston Marathon by three minutes.
It might have been a blessing in disguise.
After she ran the Lake Wobegon Marathon last year, she was disappointed for many months that she had missed qualifying for the legendary event. If she had, she and her husband, Chad, planned to take their two young children to Boston, where they could enjoy a brief vacation in the city they’d never visited.
On Monday afternoon, April 14, Lemke received a text message from a friend asking if she’d heard from any of their mutual friends, who were running in the Boston Marathon. At the time, Lemke was busily involved, helping her 10-year-old son, Jacob, with his homework. The friend texted something awful had happened. Lemke turned on the TV and saw scenes of pandemonium. She watched in stunned disbelief.
“Mom, is that the race we were supposed to go to?” Jacob asked.
Lemke’s heart sank in a strange mixture of relief and horror.
“Yes,” she told Jacob. “It is.”
Lemke still dreads to think what might have happened if her husband and beloved children had been eagerly watching to see her as she approached the finish line that day.
Two explosions near the finish line that day killed three people, including an 8-year-old boy, and hideously injured scores of others.
Later, Lemke was vastly relieved to learn her fellow runners were all OK.
Since then, the vicious acts of bombers only made Lemke, like other runners, more determined than ever. She is going to work hard to qualify at the next Lake Wobegon Marathon, and if she does, she and her family will take that Boston vacation, after all – she, Chad, Jacob and 12-year-old Jessica. That kind of determination, she said, is a way all can show the cold-blooded destroyers they are not going to gain or win anything and that runners and spectators will not allow acts of evil to strike fear into them.
Despite her sense of horror at what happened, Lemke was moved and inspired by the heroic efforts of so many people at the finish line when bloody havoc exploded. To honor them, she came up with the idea of having a Boston Marathon logo printed on T-shirts. She contacted Kevin Hardy, owner of Endurance Run shop in St. Cloud, and he agreed to produce the shirts. They quickly sold 100 of them. At the Earth Day Race Saturday in St. Cloud, they sold even more. And the shirts can still be purchased at Endurance Run at 117 Fifth Ave. S. in St. Cloud.
The T-shirts are gray with the Boston skyline printed in that city’s royal-blue signature color. Above the skyline is the date of the marathon: 4-15-13. On the skyline is the word “Boston,” and under that are the words: “Runners United to Remember.”
Lemke is a member of two running clubs: the St. Cloud River Runners and DUTRI Club.
“The T-shirts,” she said, “are a way we can honor the people in the Boston Marathon – the runners, the ones who died and the ones who were injured.”