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Running Tribute Planned For September 11th Victims

  • By Duncan Larkin
  • Published Sep. 13, 2011

Tribute bib numbers are to be worn by loved ones running for Danielle Kousoulis and Bill Fallon.

From: Running USA

PHILADELPHIA – (September 8, 2011) – Sunday, September 16th, 2001, was going to be a memorable day for Danielle Kousoulis. She had plans to run the Philadelphia Distance Run, a half-marathon, and later, more than 100 friends and family had planned a big surprise party for her 30th birthday.

She would never make it to the start line.

Five days earlier, on September 11, Danielle had gone to work as a bond broker at Cantor Fitzgerald in New York City. Her office was on the 104th floor of the World Trade Center’s North Tower.

Bill Fallon of Rocky Hill, New Jersey, also perished in the terror attacks of September 11th. He was an avid marathon runner who worked in the Port of Authority and was the only person there who didn’t escape, because he stayed to help. His office was on the 62nd floor. He later called his wife from the 64th floor.

In light of the tragedy, race officials carefully weighed the decision of whether to continue with the event. Respect for the lives lost, combined with the logistical issues of police and fire support and the number of participants who would be unable to fly to the event, were the main considerations. Emails and calls from runners overwhelmingly urged them to continue, to not give in to the terror that had struck our country.

“The runners said we needed to stand together. People wanted to be together and continue moving forward and not stand still,” said Mark Stewart, Race Director for the event at the time.

The 2001 Philadelphia Distance Run was one of the first major events to take place after the September 11th terror attacks. A moment of silence at the start line honored Danielle and Bill and their race numbers, #5494 and #7147, were retired and have not been issued since.

Now ten years later, the country will remember the attacks of September 11th and the lives that were lost. Philadelphia’s premier half-marathon still continues each fall, and is now known as the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon, which will return on Sunday, September 18.

Danielle and Bill will be remembered and honored once again as dozens of their friends and family wear their retired bib numbers proudly, “In Tribute”, to their loved ones.

Eric Strobel, a friend and former crew teammate of Danielle’s from their college days at Villanova, recalls that much of the half-marathon course will travel the same familiar banks of the Schuylkill River where he and Danielle ran many, many miles together. It was on those early mornings that she developed a love of running that would continue throughout her life.

“At her core, Danielle personified vitality,” says Eric. “It is for a number of factors – the race Danielle intended to run, the number she would have worn, the training course so many times traversed, the 10th anniversary, that I plan to pin on a commemorative 5494, run memorable miles in tribute, actively honor one of those we remember so dearly, and attempt to provide a small measure of heartfelt solace to a family that will be marking a heart-wrenching milestone.”

Check out a short poignant video of the 2001 Philadelphia Distance Run at: http://bcove.me/3yxz7szj

Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon will welcome more than 20,000 runners to the City of Brotherly Love on Sunday, September 18, 2011. Previously known as the Philadelphia Distance Run, one of the most renowned half-marathons in the United States, the event has been rebranded as part of the nationwide Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series. The 2011 edition will feature live bands and cheerleaders entertaining participants along each mile of the historic 13.1-mile course, the site of five World and three U.S. records.

For more information or to register, visit: http://runrocknroll.competitor.com/Philadelphia

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Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin is the news editor at Competitor.com and a freelance journalist who’s been covering the sport of running for over five years. He’s run 2:32 in the marathon and won the Himalayan 100-Mile Stage Race in 2007. His first running book, RUN SIMPLE, was released last July.

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