Terror In Boston

It was the first Boston Marathon for two Warren County distance runners, and the second for another.

It was a race they’ll never forget.

But, by running fast enough, they were across the finish line and safely out of harm’s way when the chaos erupted.

Finishing the marathon is an accomplishment of its own. But this year, only about 17,000 of the 27,000 entrants finished before bombs exploded near the finish line and shut down the rest of the race.

There were no reports that any Warren County runners were particularly close to the explosions along the course.

The last of three groups of 9,000 runners started at 10:40 a.m. The bombs went off at about 2:50 p.m.

Elizabeth Beardsley of Warren finished in 3 hours, 43 minutes, which put her across the finish line well before the explosions.

But, she hadn’t gone far when the bombs went off.

She and her boyfriend were “around the corner” at the time of the explosions.

“We heard the explosion,” she said. “We didn’t see anything.”

Within seconds, there was another explosion.

“We heard the two booms,” Beardsley said. “We didn’t know what was going on.”

As they were walking away, they realized something significant had happened.

“Police were coming in from every direction,” she said. “There were helicopters.”

But, “we still didn’t know what was going on,” she said.

They found out from people much farther away. Their cell phones started going off with family and friends asking if they were all right.

Beardsley described the aftermath of the bombings as “chaotic and crazy.”

Julia (3:33) and Kevin (2:50) Dustin had already left and were entering their hotel at about the time of the explosions.

“We finished the race and weren’t affected by the bombing,” Julia Dustin said.

“Someone that we were with did hear it” and described it as a “big boom,” she said.

Lonnie Heeter (3:02) was already soaking at a hotel more than a mile from the finish line at the time of the explosions. Even if he had been able to walk comfortably after the race, he wasn’t going anywhere.

“At the hotel they have everybody on lock down,” he said. “There’s extra security. They don’t want anybody leaving.”

None of the local athletes’ plans were not changed that much – having already arranged to spend the night – but many roads in the area were shut down and cellular phone service was interrupted.

“We’re unsure about what we’re supposed to do,” Dustin said. “We can’t even get to our car.”

Dustin was running in her second Boston Marathon with a group of friends who ran at Slippery Rock University. They all finished safely.

“Thank God our coach made us fast,” she said.

It was Heeter’s second marathon, and his first Boston.

“It’s catastrophic, sad, and leaves me speechless,” he said. “I sometimes lose faith in humanity.”

The race involved “good people, no political agenda,” he said. “Now, “every event in this country, people are going to be looking over their shoulder.”

It was Beardsley’s first Boston Marathon. “I was taking it all in,” she said. “It was a beautiful day, perfect running conditions.”

She’s safe, but her memory of the event is now tainted. “It had to be ruined,” she said. “It’s just terrible.”