Montville Township resident Beth Bugner can recall the emotions of competing in one of the pinnacle events for any avid runner, the Boston Marathon. Taking in all of the sights and sounds alongside dedicated athletes was a dream come true.
Then tragedy struck.
“It was just all of the excitement of Boston,” Bugner said. “I think I cried until mile three because it was so emotional.
“It all felt so right and then it was all so wrong.”
After Bugner crossed the finish line in 3:41:51 — around 10 minutes lower than her career best — the 35-year-old made her way to the medical tent located two blocks away.
She was talking to doctors for a couple minutes before she heard something she will never forget.
“I told the doctor, ‘That sounded like a bomb,’” Bugner said. “He said ‘No, no,’ and I then told him I had to go find my friends.”
Bugner located several members of the Medina Road Runners, and they quickly went to in search of transportation to a rented house in nearby Salem, Mass.
“Some of us ended up getting split up,” she said. “The three of us starting walking towards the subway, but it was closed down and we ended up just walking around until we found a rent-a-car place.”
Like most of the runners, Bugner had no idea the explosion was a bomb. Her fears were confirmed when she received a call from her mother and a friend from Baltimore.
Even in those conversations, she had a hard time saying the word “bomb” around the people she was walking with.
“It’s like how you don’t say it in an airport — no one would say the word,” said Bugner, who ran track and cross country for Our Lady of the Elms in Akron and at Francis Marion University in South Carolina. “What I remembered the most was the silence. All you could hear was emergency vehicles.
“No one knew what to say or do.”
It was an experience that left Bugner questioning whether to run in the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, which will take place Sunday.
After getting past the uncertainty, Bugner decided she was up to competing in the full marathon after running the half a year ago.
“Initially when it happened, I said, ‘Never again,’” she said. “That is such a rare occurrence though. My goal is to qualify for Boston again, and to do that I need to qualify at Cleveland. I want to run again together with my friends (in Boston).”
Security will be on high alert for the event, which starts at FirstEnergy Stadium and features a fast and flat course that runs past Edgewater Park, the West Side Market and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
According to the marathon’s official website, participants and spectators are encouraged to report anything suspicious. Backpacks and bags are strongly discouraged at the start and finish areas.
Bugner, who will be running in her seventh career marathon, is ready for the challenge.
“Looking at the weather (expected high 70s), it could be one of those no-excuses-type days,” she said. “It was a great race last year, and it’s fun to see people I know that all have worked so hard.”
Contact Dan Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.