As Boston marathoners reached the crest of the first hill this morning, they saw a towering structure of donated running shoes to honor a Virginia runner killed by an allegedly drunken driver.
“It radiates love,” said Kel Kelly, who created the structure, “Meg Soles of Love,” even though she’d never met the woman for whom it was named. “It’s hard not to stand next to it and not be taken over by the emotion that sort of pours out of it.”
Meg Cross Menzies, a Richmond, Va., mother of three, was planning to run the Boston Marathon to qualify for the Olympics, but was struck by the driver Jan. 13 while she was on a training run with her husband, Scott Menzies.
Scott Menzies visited the Hopkinton memorial Saturday.
“It’s been a tough last couple months, but things like that make it easier to see people care,” said Scott Menzies, a police officer who said his job makes him see the “rougher” side of things. “Maybe I feel like I’ve lost faith in humanity, and it’s been a great reminder that there are great people in this world, people like Kel Kelly and a few other people I’ve never met who have started a lot of different things … It’s just been amazing for me and my family to see.”
Brooke Roney, Meg Cross Menzies’ acquaintance who recently started running, said news of the accident hit her hard in January, so she decided to start a Facebook group encouraging runners to dedicate our runs on the Saturday following Cross Menzies’ death. It was called Meg’s Miles.
“It could have been me,” Roney said. “It could have been anyone.”
More than 100,000 people around the world participated in the virtual run, she said. Some knew her. Others were strangers.
But the group wasn’t done yet. People began leaving their shoes at the Virginia intersection where Cross Menzies was struck as a memorial to her.
Kelly, who lives near the first mile of the Boston Marathon route in Hopkinton, said she learned about the story as well and decided to create a shoe memorial to make Meg Cross Menzies’ presence felt on Marathon Monday.
Runners from across the country mailed more than 700 pairs of sneakers to Kelly, who arranged them into a tower shape next to the well-known “Spirit of the Marathon” statue. The leftover shoes will be given to the nonprofit 26.2 Foundation to be donated to charity.
Although Scott Menzies swore on the side of the road the morning of his wife’s death that he would never run again, he soon learned that running made him feel closer to her, he said. Their weekly date had been an 8- to 11-mile run, with Meg slowing down to match Scott Menzies’ pace and then challenging him to speed up on the hills, he said.
Soon, he was calling the Boston Athletic Association, which runs the marathon, to ask whether he could run in her place.
“I just want to run it to finish what she started,” he said. “I just want to be here and see what she would have seen.”
He said he has no doubt his wife would have qualified for the Olympics this year, and he wants to soak in the race the same way she would.
“I just want to feel running each step, seeing the crowd,” he said. “I want to run this because I feel like there are times I struggle to feel her, and I know that I will feel her tomorrow.”