Ashland University Alumna Sets Up #RunForBoston

Ashland University Alumna Sets Up #RunForBoston

4/19/13 ASHLAND, Ohio – Becca Obergefell, a 2008 graduate of Ashland University, has created quite a stir in the social media world with her creation of the hashtag RunForBoston that is getting a great response from all over the world.

Obergefell graduated from Ashland University in 2008 as Rebecca Fick with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, Journalism and Applied Writing.

“I was watching coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings on Twitter Monday night and saw people tweeting about wanting to ‘run for Boston.’ Some were lacing up that night to log a few miles for the victims, families, rescuers and runners and others had plans to go out the next day,” she said. “As I saw tens and hundreds of people saying things like this, I searched for a way that we could log these miles in a way that would make a difference.”

Ultimately, Obergefell created a Google Form at (, where people could log their runs - including their name, miles, where they were running, and most importantly -- why they are running for Boston.

Obergefell shared the link with Facebook friends and Twitter followers and every running group and hashtag she could think of. It went live just before midnight on Monday and had about 100 responses when she woke up the next day.

“I reshared the link and it started spreading immediately -- friends resharing it, Twitter and Facebook, sharing in emails with friends, family, running clubs, colleagues,” she said. “By the end of Tuesday, nearly 1,500 people had logged their miles.”

As of this morning (Friday, April 19), the total was more than 3,500 runners and 17,000 miles, she said.

“These miles aren’t about raising money, but about showing our support for the runners, families, rescuers and Bostonians. They are about being a part of something bigger than ourselves and being a part of a community,” she said. “The responses I have received are incredible. I can’t decide if I’m more amazed by the runners who know me and have #runforboston, or the strangers from around the world; the people who run because they know someone involved, or who run because they feel called to; the people who run 13 miles or who run for the first time in their lives.

“While some cynics have said ‘just running doesn't do anything’ - I disagree wholeheartedly,” she said. “This project has created a community of hope, grief, support and strength in a time of tragedy.”

Obergefell listed a number of the reasons people listed for running in their posts to #RunForBoston.

“I ran to clear my head, but it didn’t work. So I ran because I could. Because the freedom of running wasn’t taken away from me. Because the running community stretches to all cities and all places, and I’m glad to be a part of it.”

“For those whose personal victories and celebrations were overshadowed by violence.”

“I was at the marathon when the bombings happened.”

"Running is my life and every runner is family."

Son was at bomb site, attends college in Boston.”

More of these responses can be seen at:

Obergefell said that runners from around the world (and USA) have logged miles, including runners from Romania, England, Italy, Germany, Russia, New Zealand, China, Japan, Belgium, France, Bermuda, Mexico, and Canada. 

Also, the whole movement has received some major media coverage, including from: 

-- Huffington Post (a live video interview, including Obergefell and an Olympic gold medal marathoner/running legend)

-- CNN - iReport story featured and now a campaign 

-- Today Show 

And, according to Obergefell, another segment is set to air on CNN on April 19. 

Obergefell’s website, where the form is hosted, is and her Twitter account is (@OberBecca). 

Obergefell believes her education at Ashland University had an influence on her creating #RunForBoston.

“My Ashland education was a critical piece of what called me to create the #RunForBoston movement,” she said. “I have a degree in English and Journalism from Ashland that taught me the value of discovering and sharing people's stories and the connections this creates. It gave me communication skills and a network to launch an initiative like this. I also spent my senior year as an intern with the Ashland Center for Nonviolence, an experience that has a profound impact on my view of this and other tragedies.”

Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2013, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###