Local runners recall horror of Boston Marathon

By Keisha Howerth

Two DeKalb residents will return to the Boston Marathon next week despite last year’s deadly bombings.

On April 15, 2013, two bombs were detonated near the marathon’s finish line, killing three people and injuring about 260 others.

Jesse Rangel, DeKalb resident and NIU carpenter, said he ran the marathon for the first time last year. Rangel said he crossed the finish line 20 minutes before the first bomb, and was two and a half blocks away when it hit.

“I thought it had something to do with celebrating,” Rangel said. “I asked my kids to look at their smartphones to see what was going on.”

DeKalb resident Julie Suter said she ran in the Boston Marathon four times before the 2013 race. Suter said she crossed the marathon finish line five minutes before the first explosion.

“I had an eerie feeling and realized there was definitely something wrong,” Suter said. “I looked at the girl next to me and said ‘Do you think it was a bomb?’ I had to get out of there and see what was wrong. I didn’t find out what happened until I was back at my hotel.”

Rangel said he’s thankful his family, which was at the marathon, was unharmed during the bombings.

“A lot of people that got hurt were supporters for the runners,” Rangel said. “My kids are still freaked out about it, so it’ll be just my wife going this year.”

Suter said she did not qualify for the 2014 Boston Marathon, but is thankful she finished last year’s marathon unharmed.

“[The incident] made me appreciate that I could be out there and run,” Suter said. “I had two friends that were able to finish the marathon [before the bombings]. I’m glad they got out of there safely.”

Rangel said he looks forward to going back to Boston for the marathon on April 21.

“I’m going to be running the greatest race in the history of the marathon,” Rangel said. “It’ll be very emotional.”

Rangel said he’s experienced disrupted sleep since last year’s bombings.

“I’m trying not to overthink it,” Rangel said. “I run because I enjoy it.”

Rangel said he’s continued running in the past year, though the winter was brutal for training.

“Weather conditions have to be favorable,” said DeKalb resident David Kuhn. “I couldn’t train as well because of the weather. My left knee doesn’t do well on treadmills so I do most of my training on Nelson Road.”

Kuhn is a visually impaired runner who participated in last year’s marathon with two sighted guides through the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired’s Team With a Vision. Kuhn, who also ran the marathon in 2012, said last year’s bombings didn’t affect his passion for the activity.

“I ran five more marathons last year and will be running [in the Boston Marathon] again this year,” Kuhn said. “I haven’t talked to anyone who’s been deterred from running. A lot of this has bonded us closer together.”

Rangel said it’s important for him to go back this year and bond with other runners over their marathon experiences since he didn’t get a chance to last year.

“I never had a chance to celebrate or get together with other runners,” Rangel said. “I’m looking forward to going back, knowing it will be better.”