Runners Remember 9/11

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Ann Sommerlath Pizzi, who shared her story in Runner's World Magazine this month, immediately began running again after the 9/11 attacks as a way to cope with the emotional trauma of that day. (Runner's World Magazine)
Ann Sommerlath Pizzi shared her experiences after 9/11 in Runner's World Magazine. (Grant Delin/Runner's World)

Sunday marks the tenth anniversary of the September 11th hijackings of four airplanes, two of which brought down the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York.

Runner's World magazine is one of many publications that's commemorating 9/11. Several runners share their personal stories in the magazine about how running helped them to cope with their experiences related — either directly or indirectly — to the events of that day.

This week, Bill Littlefield spoke with Charlie Butler, executive editor of Runner's World, about why he and his colleagues decided to include the feature.

"Running is a sport that people participate [in] to get away from tragedies," says Butler. "The hope is that it will help people. Maybe by looking at the past it makes your present feel just a little bit better."

One of the runners who told her story in the magazine is Ann Somerlath Pizzi, who also joined Bill on the show this week. Pizzi was only 250 yards away from the the World Trade Center and watched from her apartment as the first tower fell. Yet the very next day, while staying at a friend's house in New Jersey, she went for a run.

"I was still…in some sort of a state of shock," Pizzi says. "It was almost instinctive for me to just get up and put on those running clothes and get out the door and start doing something to kind of get back to some sense of normalcy. Running was something that…I did every morning and that was just a way to keep life moving on."

Both Butler and Pizzi agree that, unlike most other sports, running is a solitary undertaking, which is perhaps why so many turned to it as a way to make sense of their experiences with 9/11. Pizzi says each run "allowed me to clear my mind while at the same time sort of focus and think about what I’d been through without TV and other people and everything else around me. It just really allowed me to focus inwardly on what I’d witnessed."

This segment aired on September 10, 2011.


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