More than 2,000 people — some in running shorts, and some wearing heavy firefighting gear — turned out on a steamy morning to run 3.1 miles through the streets of the city Sunday to honor those who died on 9/11.
From a starting line under a huge American flag hanging from the raised ladder of a Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue truck, the runners took off shortly after 7:30 a.m. on the fifth annual Tunnel to Towers Fort Lauderdale 5K Run & Walk.
Tunnel to Towers run, Fort Lauderdale
Participants, including firefighters in their gear, take part in the Tunnel to Towers walk and run commemorating the victims of 9/11 in Fort Lauderdale on Sept. 13, 2015. (Joe Cavaretta)
“This is a great opportunity to have a good run and to honor guys who run into scary stuff,” said Nathan Brown, 32, a Fort Lauderdale running coach who was the first man to finish with a time of 17:42.
The race is sponsored by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, named for 34-year-old New York firefighter who put on his gear when he saw the smoke from the burning towers on Sept. 11, 2001, and ran through the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel to reach his squad at the World Trade Center.
He and 342 other FDNY firefighters lost their lives that day.
Wonderful Just breathtaking. What a fantastic USA effort. Never Forget at its best.. Congratulations all of you..
AT 2:17 PM SEPTEMBER 13, 2015
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Siller was much on the minds of West Palm Beach firefighters Alejandro Moreno, 28, and Steven McGee, 27, who ran the course wearing their heavy bunker jackets, pants and boots. Both men said 9/11 had a bearing on their decision to become firefighters.
“We did it is this controlled environment,” said Moreno. “But now we know we could do it in real life if we ever had to.”
Also pounding the pavement in his gear was Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Timothy Heiser, who said, “You have to be in good shape to do it.
“This is really something, to see everybody come out for such a fantastic cause.”
The winding course took participants east on Broward Boulevard, through the Henry E. Kinney Tunnel under the New River, west on Davie Boulevard and back to the starting point at Huizenga Park. The registration fee was $30, with proceeds going toward the foundation’s efforts to build homes for wounded Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, according to spokesman John Hodge.
The first woman to finish, in 20:32, was Lesley Moore, 38, a British marathoner who timed her vacation in the U.S. so she could run the race for the second time. “It’s a good atmosphere here, and it just makes you think about what happened that day,” she said.
Moore was closely followed to the finish line by Deven Christopher, 41, a Coconut Creek graphic designer. Although she is an experienced competitive runner, Christopher said this event was special because of its links to the sacrifices made that during that terrorist attack 14 years ago.
“We often get lost in the busyness of our daily lives,” said Christopher. “This seems like a chance to get reconnected to what’s important.”
The Siller Foundation’s Tunnel to Towers runs are held in nine U.S. cities, including Orlando, Vero Beach and New York.
Copyright © 2015, Sun Sentinel
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