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Runner's response to marathon protest gets big reaction; groups plead for alternatives

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The reaction to the planned Black Lives Matter protest at this weekend's Twin Cities Marathon has been strong, to say the least, but one response in particular appears to have caught the eye of runners taking part.

Several online campaigns have been launched in the wake of the BLM announcement, imploring the protest group to find alternative ways of getting their message across rather than potentially impacting the end of the race for exhausted runners.

One of those runners, Tina Hauser, has gained huge support with her plea on the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon Facebook page, which has gained more than 6,600 likes and over 500 comments since she wrote it on Sunday.

"If you succeed in blocking our finish line, you are doing more than stopping human beings from crossing a rubber timing mat. You are telling me that you do not value good citizens setting positive examples of perseverance and triumph," she writes.

"Running has saved lives in so many ways and has brought people and communities together by their shared passion for what it gives back - to them AND to others."

Here's the full post:

Marathon organizers Twin Cities in Motion has said it is "working closely with city officials to ensure the safety of all participants, volunteers and spectators" in response to the planned protest.

It has said more information relating to the logistics of the protest and impact on those taking part or watching the race will be shared as soon as it's available.

BLM spokesman explains why they are protesting

The protest is being organized by Black Lives Matter St. Paul, and will start at 10 a.m. on Sunday at Boyd Park, around half a mile from the finish line.

The group has said the "shut down" of the popular race is in support of Edna Waddle and her son, Tyree Tucker, who allegedly received a “beating” from a St. Paul Police officer at a church picnic last Sunday, according to a news release on Facebook.

The group also aims to raise awareness of other arrests of African-American youths in the Twin Cities, including that of Marcus Abrams, an autistic 17-year-old they say was “forcefully arrested” by Metro Transit officers last month.

In an interview with MPR News, organizer Rashad Turner said part of the group's job is to "agitate" and "disrupt" to get their wider message across.

"And if that means making a few people angry, well that's probably good, because then it will make them start to think about why we're angry," he said.

You can watch his interview here:

Online groups plead for alternatives

In response to the protest, dubbed #BlackMarathon, other people involved with the marathon have taken to social media to launch campaigns on behalf of runners that suggest alternative forms of protesting.

LetThemFinish, which has created the event #26MilesOfSmiles, encourages those taking part in the BLM protest to instead join marathon organizers to "see what this event is all about," adding:

"We want you to be part of our community. We feel that blocking the race course is extremely dangerous for everyone, this event is all about positivity. It's confusing to many of us why you would want to disrupt this event which shows we don't know you very well, this could be a great opportunity to tell your story to someone who really needs to hear it and is ready to listen. Imagine the impact that could have!"

Another runner, Justin Kruse, says he reached out to BLM to find "another way to raise awareness of their cause," suggesting they could take over aid and water stations to help runners on their way to the finish.

But when nothing came of this conversation with the group, he decided on an alternative course of action, launching a fundraising page in which the proceeds after completion of his run will go to a charity of Black Lives Matter's choosing.

"If they do not contact me about which charity they would like to see the money go to, I will choose a St. Paul school who is in most need and donate it to the school on behalf of the Black Lives Matter organization!" he said.

"We, as runners, are a very inclusive, accepting, charitable community. Let's show Black Lives Matter that we mean business by helping out and raising awareness for much needed change!"

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