Runners giving back: Medals4Mettle

The running community is a strong and rowdy bunch. There’s a certain level of insanity the comes along with runners, people who choose to spend much of their free time running long distances for the love of the sport and achieving the impossible (with a side of bragging rights and medals sometimes thrown in for good measure).

After an event like the one at the Boston Marathon, there’s a certain sense of helplessness that hits us. We are doers, movers and shakers, so to do nothing is not an option.

Since Monday’s tragedy, we’ve participated in reflection runs; we’ve worn the Boston Marathon colors of blue and gold; we’ve donned race shirts from any and all events; we’ve prayed for the victims, first responders, runners and the city of Boston.


And we’re still left asking, What else is there? What more can we do to show support, solidity and love?

Well, friends, might I offer up Medals4Mettle?

met·tle  /ˈmetl/ Noun
A person’s ability to cope well with difficulties or to face a demanding situation in a spirited and resilient way.

In May 2005, Dr. Steven Isenberg gave his own Chicago Marathon medal to his patient, Les Taylor, who was battling prostate cancer. Before his death, Taylor told Dr. Isenberg just how much the medal meant to him.

From that seed Medals4Mettle blossomed. I first heard about Medals4Mettle, or M4M, last year when I began running races.

Currently M4M is collecting Boston Marathon medals from any year to give to Monday’s victims and first responders.


For those who haven’t run the Boston Marathon, M4M will gratefully accept all donations of hard-earned half marathon, full marathon or triathlon medals to those battling life-threatening illnesses and severe disabilities.

“Think about when you are out on a course, and you have dozens to hundreds of people you don’t know who are cheering you on, and want to see you succeed and get to the finish line,” said Andrea Herrmann of M4M.  “This is our chance to return this encouragement to others, and to celebrate their strength in dealing with their health struggles, cheering them to their personal finish lines.”


Directors and chapter coordinators are all volunteers at M4M. I reached out to my local chapter coordinator, Reed Costello, who said that his responsibilities include local awareness and collecting/passing medals along to the area coordinator who then distributes them to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The children love receiving the medals and the runDisney medals are among the favorites; many wear the donated medals to chemo treatment or hang them from their IV pole.

A selfless way to lift someone’s spirits and give back, Medals4Mettle is a non-profit organization that assists runners and athletes in doing just that.

Have you ever given your race medal to someone else? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Reflection run

Some fought back tears. Others hugged. Everyone hit the pavement.

Several dozen runners gathered in suburban Rochester Tuesday evening and together ran in memory of the bombings that interrupted the Boston Marathon Monday afternoon, killing three and injuring more than 170 others.

“We are runners, we are strong,” said Ellen Brenner co-owner of Fleet Feet Sports in Brighton.

Before we hit the road, Brenner thanked the group for their love and support of  Rochester’s running community — and each other. One local Boston Marathoner, Malcolm Bugler of Henrietta, also spoke of Monday’s events.

“It’s only just sinking in now, the enormity of the thing that happened,” he said. “Running is a celebration of what you can achieve…to have that challenged is just unthinkable.”

Typically, we run hills on Tuesday evenings. Instead, we ran an altered “happy hour” loop of 4.09 miles, which was the time on the race clock when the first explosion went off.

We ran through a drizzle, many wearing Boston’s blue and yellow or race shirts or jackets. We were together. We were one. We were strong. We are runners.

Click here for a video of the memorial run by my colleague Kris Murante.

Our hearts are with you, Boston

It’s hard to find words for what happened at the finish line of the Boston Marathon yesterday. When unspeakable, senseless acts like this happen, most of us can think of only one word: why?

The truth is, even if and when the person or people responsible for this are apprehended, even after a motive is revealed and justice is served, there will be no good answer to that question. How do you even begin to process the reason behind the destruction brought down on what was supposed to be a joyful event, where people were injured and killed simply because they were there to run or to cheer on their loved one as they crossed the finish line?

There will never be an answer for that kind of blind hatred.

But what we’ve seen time and time again is that goodness will always blot out the bad. In all of the horrific footage, the awful news stories that seemed to flow out endlessly through various social media platforms, there were these stories: people running to help the injured, to hold hands and offer reassurance; a Google spreadsheet that popped up online, filled with names and numbers and addresses, temporary homes for those displaced by what happened; a couple that had run the marathon, only to get married hours later.

These are the moments that invariably always rise to the surface, because good will always counteract the bad. Love will always trump hate. It is so much bigger.

We love you, Boston, and our hearts are with you.