At the starting line, Dori Salamone thought about the friends surrounding her and the tragedy that brought them together.
Two years ago she was living in New York City. Last year she was here, in Arlington, running a race to honor the victims of Sept. 11, including her brother-in-law.
Some two-dozen friends accompanied her this year, a stark contrast to the first race. “A year ago I was by myself running, and I met all these wonderful people,” she said. With the letters “WTC” and “JPS” stitched to the back of her shirt, Salamone tried to talk about John Patrick Salamone, the brother-in-law she lost when the World Trade Center collapsed. But she soon choked up and returned to the crowd at the srarting line.
Alternating smiles and tears expressed the mixture of emotions for many at the second annual Arlington Police/Fire/Sheriff 9/11 Memorial 5K. Over 2,000 people came to Crystal City Saturday, Sept. 6, for the event, which honored victims of the terrorist attack and raised money for Sept. 11 charities, including the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Survivors Fund (Pentagon), Port Authority World Trade Disaster Relief Fund and Special Operations Warrior Foundation.
“We need to remember all the victims and also all the charitable work that continues today,” said David Grace, a McLean resident who competed in the race this year and last year.
While emotions still ran high, this year’s race was more upbeat, he said. “Last year was a very special event. The one-year anniversary was an emotional time for everyone in the country.”
Arlingtonian Lori Kozich agreed that the mood at the race struck a balance. “[The race] gives the community a sense of remembering, but in a more positive light,” she said.
STILL, AS RUNNERS prepared for the race, some turned their thoughts to the path ahead, which included a run past the rebuilt wall of the Pentagon.
“It’s going to be tough,” said Pete Bruno, as he adjusted the bandana that he wore tied over his brow, bearing the stars and stripes .
“I’ll probably get the chills,” said Fairfax resident Megan McMichael. “It’s still emotional for everybody.”
“I used to ride by after it happened, and I cried all the time,” said Denise Westrick. Her husband was transferred out of the Pentagon just a month before the attack.
Some runners said the race was one of the few events that offered a broad section of the community a way to honor the Sept. 11 victims. “You always feel like you need to do something to commemorate the anniversary,” said Carey Rountree, Arlington resident .
“I feel like this is one of the only things I can do,” added Alexandria’s Claire Kittle.
REMEMBERING THE TRAGEDY didn’t hinder the competitive spirit for some runners. Michelle Workman, trooper first class with the Maryland State Police, brought a team of police academy cadets to compete in the law enforcement category against teams from other jurisdictions. The team consisted of the five fastest members of the academy class.
“I’m expecting a lot more out of them than I am out of myself,” said Workman.
Jacqueline Concaugh, 28, of Alexandria, finished first among women, with a time of 17:59. Two Arlington women placed in the top-five, with Rebecca Nathan, 38, and Kyleanne Hunter, 27, coming in third and fourth in 20:10 and 20:38, respectively.
On the men’s side, Springfield resident and former West Springfield High School standout Chris Banks, 25, took first place with a time of 15:52. Arlington’s Erik Taylor, 24, came in at 16:56, earning a fourth place finish.