Bombing saddens local runners

Written by Observer staff reports April 17, 2013 12:41 pm

Staff reports

Four people from Union, Wallowa and Baker counties who earlier ran in the Boston Marathon are expressing disbelief at the bomb explosions that killed three people and injured more than 170 at the historic race Monday.

 Kim Sorensen of La Grande, who ran the Boston Marathon in 1995, was as stunned as anyone when she learned about the bomb explosions Monday afternoon.

“It is a tragedy. It is very, very sad. I’m at a loss for words. It makes me feel so sad. I just can’t imagine it. There were innocent people who lost their lives because of something as benign as running the Boston Marathon,’’ Sorensen said. 

Sorensen recalled that she had no concerns about security while completing the marathon because the atmosphere was one of nonstop encouragement. She said people were lined up all the way along the route cheering runners on.

“The support carries you,’’ Sorensen said. “It (the possibility of a bomb explosion) did not even cross my mind. It was the furthest thing from my mind.”

 Sandy Knowles of
La Grande, who ran the Boston Marathon in 1992, also said she had no security concerns at the event. One reason she felt safe is that all the runners were in the constant presence of other people. 

“You are never alone. You are always with people. You had no idea that something like this could happen,’’ Knowles said. 

Knowles, who has run in the Hood to Coast Relay conducted each Labor Day Weekend, said she had safety worries about that event. Knowles noted that participants have to share the road with motorists and run at night during the Hood to Coast event.

“I had no concerns like this when running the Boston Marathon,’’ Knowles said.

 Laura Stauffer Miller of Enterprise, who ran the Boston Marathon in 2010, said on Monday that the news of the finish-line bombing shocked her.

 “I’m really sad and I’m praying for the runners and people involved and hoping something just went wrong and it wasn’t a terrorist or an individual. I got a few texts from people wondering if I was running it today. It’s sad and not what I would want — an excellent event and put a sad note on it,” Miller said.

The Enterprise runner added that the bombing was eerie from a personal perspective. 

 “When I looked at some of the pictures of the finish clock — initially right after it happened — there was a lot of smoke in the air and the clock said 4:09, the time it takes me to run a marathon,” Miller said. 

Three years ago, Davey Peterson crossed the finish line at the Boston Marathon.

This year, when two bombs detonated at that same finish line, he was in Baker City. But his thoughts were in Boston.

“Even though I was clear across the country, it affected me immediately,” he said Tuesday. “That last stretch to the finish line is packed.”

He said there can be as many as 50,000 people greeting runners at the finish.

“It swells for the first wave of finishers,” he said.

Last October, he considered signing up for the 2013 Boston Marathon, but he decided to train for a different race later in the year.

His qualifying time for Boston is good for two years, so he decided to register for the 2014 race.

Monday’s tragedy hasn’t changed his mind. “I’m still planning on it. Now more than ever,” Peterson said.

To him — and probably anyone who has ever run a race or cheered a loved one across the finish line — the bombing was personal.

“We’re there to compete, of course, but it becomes a community. Runners look out for each other,” he said. “It’s like somebody attacking a member of your family.”

Peterson watched the running community’s reaction on social media networks, and he doesn’t think Monday’s bombing will deter runners from registering for Boston next year.

“It’s done the opposite,” he said. “This is something we do as a lifestyle and what we believe in.”

In short, fear will not keep runners from entering races.

“People can’t let these things determine what they’re going to do,” he said.

But he won’t forget this year’s marathon, especially in future races when he nears the finish line and sees his family waiting. Because that is where the bombs exploded in Boston, where family and friends gather.

“From now on, I might have that sticking in the back of my mind,” he said. “My parents, wife and brother all manage to muscle their way in.”

But he will still run, and he will still enter races.

“Focus on how many things go right every year, and weigh that against the odds of something bad happening,” he said. “We can’t be ruled by fear.”