New Castle News

Closer Look

April 17, 2013

Local men escape terrorist attack at Boston Marathon

NEW CASTLE — Two Lawrence County men competing in the 117th Boston Marathon escaped the fatal bombing at the finish line.

“It was unfortunate to mar this great event with tragedy,” said Dr. John R. “Jack” Reed of Beechwood Road, New Wilmington. “It’s sad that the occasion attracted this.”

Reed, contacted on his way home from Boston Tuesday, said he already had completed the 26.2-mile race and was on his way out of the area before the first bomb exploded.

Reed had traveled to Boston with Dr. Ross Wastvedt, a professor at Westminster College and New Wilmington resident. Although he also is a runner, Wastvedt did not run in the marathon.

Reed, 54, completed the marathon with a time of three hours, 35 minutes and 50 seconds.

“I have nothing to add to what you’ve heard,” Reed said as he and Wastvedt headed home Tuesday. The two men had left for Boston Saturday and spent the weekend. They were well into their nine-hour drive home and on Interstate 80 when reached Tuesday.

“I had finished my race, I had reconnected with Dr. Wastvedt after crossing the finish line and we were walking back to the hotel. We were out of the area affected by the blast.”

A native of Lawrence County, Reed said he is a long-time runner who “ran for Neshannock” in the 1970s. He participates now in local runs.

Someone at the McKee Crossing Road home of Richard Burkett confirmed Tuesday morning that the 41-year-old had done the race.

“He had finished the race prior to the explosion and was back in his hotel when the explosion occurred,” a man said, adding, “He was not hurt.”

No other information could be obtained about Burkett.

Grove City resident Mark Courtney ran the Boston Marathon for the 34th time.

The running enthusiast was one of several Mercer Countians at the race on Monday.

Courtney said he finished the race in three hours, 12 minutes and 48 seconds, a little more than an hour before the bombs went off near the finish line.

“It’s terrible,” he said from his hotel room Monday evening. “It’s a very sad day for running and for the sport.”

Courtney said none of the runners from this area who he knows had made the trip were hurt in the blasts.

However, his wife, Debbie, did hear them while on her way back to the hotel.

People initially thought it was a shooting, he said, adding he was getting information from television just like people all over the world.

Most of the runners affected by the blast were those who were in the race for charity, Courtney said.

They’re people who “worked hard and long to earn money for a charity.” They started an hour behind the initial pack of runners, he said, and were the ones who weren’t able to finish.

Providing security at a marathon is an impossible task, Courtney said.

“This whole thing is right downtown and every runner has a bag and every spectator has a bag.

“I don’t know how (this) is going to impact other events.”

“It’s unfortunate,” he said. “It’s a very positive day and it ended up being a disaster.”

(Tomorrow: Tim Kolodziej shares his thoughts on some true heroes who crossed the finish line at the Boston Marathon.)


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