By Matt Wiley

An eerie silence fills the Shops at Wiregrass mall in Wesley Chapel, as hundreds of runners briskly pass, to honor those lost during the bombing of the Boston Marathon on April 15. The only sounds for the entire first mile of the race are those of feet hitting pavement.

FITniche, a running store in the mall, and thousands of other retail running stores across the country that are part of the Independent Running Retailer Association (IRRA), hosted a three-mile run on April 22 to raise money for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, only a week after the explosions that killed three and injured more than 180 people near the finish line of one of the most popular foot races in the U.S.

“We host a run here every Thursday,” says Wiregrass FITniche general manager Brian Brink. “But, this just steamrolled into a huge event.”

Brink says that more than 400 people came out to run and show their support at the Wiregrass location. The first mile of the race, which began at the store, was purposely run in silence.

The IRRA, which has more than 160 member retailers (many of which have numerous locations nationwide), organized a collective event to show support for those affected by the bombings and put its members in charge of organizing local runs and getting T-shirts made.

The shirts were sold at each event for $20, with all of the proceeds going to benefit The One Fund, Inc., a charity set up by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino. So far, between public and corporate donations, more than $21 million has been raised to help the victims of the Boston bombing.

For more information about FitNiche and its upcoming road races, please visit the store’s Facebook page at


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