Coal Township teen times well in Tunnel to Towers Run in NYC
A Coal Township teenager placed 303rd out of 1,455 timed-runners in a race named after a firefighter killed in New York City during the terrorists attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Keith Elliott, who was 2 years old when terrorists flew two planes into the World Trade Center towers, finished the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Run won Sunday with a time of 33:17.258. Elliott, now 15 and a junior firefighter with Liberty Fire Company, Shamokin, traveled to New York City with 36 members of the Northumberland County Tunnel to Towers Team to participate in the 3.5-mile run.
"I was happy with myself because the race is for a good cause," Elliott said during an interview a day after the race. "It honors the public service men and women who lost their lives to save other people in need during 9/11."
Siller, a Brooklyn firefighter, was off-duty when terrorists slammed two planes into the north and south towers in Lower Manhattan. After hearing the news, he grabbed his gear and headed toward the scene to join his unit that had already arrived. Traffic was at a standstill at the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, which forced Siller to abandon his vehicle. He was seen running through the tunnel wearing gear that weighed 60-pounds.
The race's inception began in 2002 when 2,500 runners ran from the tunnel's mouth in Brooklyn to the former site of the towers. In the spring of 2005, the event grabbed the attention of several local residents, including Shamokin firefighters John Arnold and city councilman R. Craig Rhoades, who were told about Siller's story by Sunbury firefighter Mark Cox.
This year, an estimated 25,000 people re-traced Siller's footsteps. At the end of the tunnel, participants were greeted by firefighters who held photographs of the 343 firefighters killed during the attack.
"It was a good feeling to see all these people care about those who lost their lives," Elliott said. "I enjoy the experience of getting to meet other public service men and women."
Elliott said he will participate in the run next year and is considering wearing his gear as a sign of respect.