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Rostraver native returns home unscathed from bombings at Boston Marathon

| Tuesday, April 16, 2013, 12:16 a.m.

Early Monday afternoon, Linda Horrell received a telephone call from her son, Aaron, who had just completed his first Boston Marathon.

“He called and said he was happy with his time,” the Rostraver Township mom said.

“The next phone call, he said, ‘We're in a taxi on the way to the airport, but there were bombs that went off.'”

Linda Horrell called the violence-marred event – three people died and more than 130 suffered injuries – “just a horrible thing.”

“I know these things happen, but you don't think about it happening there,” she said of the race. “We were so excited about him running the race.”

Aaron Horrell, 31, finished the marathon in 3:01, a little over an hour before the explosions occurred. He was en route to the airport when he learned of the blasts.

“We were just about to board the T,” Aaron Horrell said. “That's when they stopped everybody and said ‘the T's closed. There's been two explosions downtown.'”

Horrell said he scrambled to catch a taxi so he could make his flight to New York. From there, he boarded a second plane, which arrived in Pittsburgh late Monday.

“I was in disbelief,” Aaron Horrell said. “I thought, ‘How does this happen at an event like this? At the same time, you think it's an outside event, so it's such an easy target.

“The whole running community is so close knit, and it's such a peaceful event. People travel from all over the world for the Boston Marathon. It's a shame.”

Horrell's time qualified him to run in the 2014 Boston Marathon. He plans to do so next year.

“I don't think something like this could make you not go out and live your life,” Aaron Horrell said.

“I don't think anyone should let that affect their decision, just because there are people out there that don't want us to have those freedoms.”

Horrell traveled with two runners and two coaches from the Steel City Road Runners Club. They all agreed the tragedy will result in heightened security for the Pittsburgh Marathon in less than three weeks.

Charlie Weaver, of Rostraver Township, a veteran of 55 marathons, has run in Boston three times, most recently in 2004. He qualified for Boston this year, but was too busy to make the trip.

Weaver said he ran his first Boston Marathon in April 2002, the first such race after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“They had super-tight security,” Weaver said of the scene in 2002. “But you can only secure it so much. It's 26 miles long.”

Weaver said security has remained tight in Boston ever since.

“At finish line, there are police all over,” Weaver said. “There is security everywhere.”

Weaver said runners concentrate more on finishing the race than on their surroundings at the finish line.

“It's a huge party,” Weaver said. “There's people packed on both sides, usually.”

Weaver will be a pacer for the Pittsburgh Marathon – one of the people designated by officials to run the race at a specific pace. Runners attempting to qualify for Boston, or those trying to merely set a personal record routinely run with pace groups.

Weaver said he expects the blasts in Boston will affect the Pittsburgh Marathon on May 5 and marathons down the road, but “especially at Pittsburgh, because it will happen right after this.”

As authorities were still uncovering details, Weaver suggested the explosions were aimed more at crowds than the marathon itself.

“This could have happened in the crowds outside of just about any place, any sporting events, anywhere where large crowds are gathered,” Weaver said.

Stephanie Beisheim of Nottingham Township qualified for Boston Marathon, but was unable to fit the trip into her schedule.

“It almost makes me wonder if there was a higher purpose for me to not go,” Beisheim said. “As I saw that, I thought about having qualified and I could have been there.

“I guess it was a blessing in disguise, but I feel sorry for all of those families who had runners or volunteers or spectators there.”

As her son made it home, Linda Horrell was thankful.

“We're just glad he's safe, and I feel for the people who lost family members or who were hurt,” she said.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or

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