[Photo: Meg Cross Menzies]
On Monday morning, Meg Cross Menzies, was doing what she loved — running. The 35-year-old wife and mother of three was training for the 2014 Boston Marathon outside of Richmond when police say 47-year-old Dr. Michael Carlson ran off the road and struck her with his car.
Dr. Carlson, according to police, was driving drunk. Meg was rushed to the hospital, where she later died.
News of the young athlete’s tragic death spread quickly through the tight-knit running community.
“It could have been me. That’s what you think about as a runner,” said 35-year-old Brooke Roney. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost been hit by a car. I can’t tell you how many runners have been hit and injured.”
Brooke not only lost a fellow runner Monday, she lost a friend. Five years ago, the two met and began bonding during group play dates for their children.
“She was a tiny, tiny woman, but she just lit up the room with her smile,” Brooke told Very Best of Virginia by phone Wednesday.
Since returning to her native-Dallas, Texas, Brooke and Meg kept in touch via Facebook. On Monday morning, it was on Facebook that Brooke learned of Meg’s death. In shock, she began sharing Meg’s story with her online friends and the running community.
“It was something I could do from Texas to honor her and remember her,” she said.
Within minutes, Brooke’s friends began suggesting that she organize a virtual run to honor Meg’s memory. Virtual run’s, which anyone can join no matter where they live, are organized online and have become popular in the running community. Hesitant at first, Brooke decided to follow her friend’s advice. By late Monday, the Facebook event, “Meg’s Miles,” had been created and Brooke began sharing the information with her friends.
“I wasn’t expecting more than maybe a couple hundred people to join us,” Brooke admitted.
But, much to Brooke’s surprise and delight, thousands and thousands of people have already agreed to take part in the virtual run on Saturday, January 18. In fact, as of Friday, more than 75,000 people across the United States and world had visited the “Meg’s Miles” event page on Facebook and pledged their support.
“It’s beyond insane. I really think it’s a testament to the running community. We all support one another,” said Brooke.
What began as a simple gesture of remembrance has now ballooned into a national running event.
Brooke’s friend, Brian Marks, the founder of Bonfire Funds, a Richmond-based fundraising website, has now created a $15.00 t-shirt to promote “Meg’s Miles.” So far, more than 2,500 shirts have been sold and more than $25,000 has been raised. Every penny from the online fundraiser will be given to Meg’s late husband and children.
From marathoners to couch potatoes, people of every athletic background from across the world will unite outdoors on Saturday to honor Meg Cross Menzies in hopes of preventing a similar tragedy from happening again.
“Whether it’s 5 minutes, 20 minutes or 20 miles, just get outside and say a prayer to remember her,” Brooke said. “We’ve lost a dear friend and runner in the community and I know she would be walking or running with you if she could.”
If you would like to take part in the “Meg’s Miles” event Saturday, visit the official event page on Facebook to sign-up.
To purchase a “Meg’s Miles” t-shirt or to make a donation to Meg’s family, visit the Meg Cross Menzies fundraiser created by Bonfire Funds.