Butler residents ready to run Boston Marathon without fear

| Saturday, April 5, 2014, 3:40 p.m.

Jim Wrubel wants his 26.2-mile run through the streets of Boston on April 21 to be a lesson his two daughters never will forget.

“I'm going back to run to show them that there will be scary things in this world, but if you back down, you're acknowledging defeat even before you start,” Wrubel, 40, of Cranberry, said.

This year's Boston Marathon will be the first since the April 15, 2013, bombings near the Boylston Street finish line that killed three spectators and injured more than 250 others, many of them permanently. Of the 36,000 runners registered for the race, 18 are from Butler County.

Wrubel will be running his second Boston Marathon, and he expects an emotional finish this year.

He crossed the finish line in 2013 about an hour before the bombs exploded. His wife, Eileen, and daughters Brenna, now 11, and Delamie, now 6, were standing at mile 23 to cheer him on.

After Wrubel finished in 3 hours 5 minutes, the family walked about a mile to the historic Bell in Hand Tavern, where they watched news coverage of the bombings that occurred shortly after they left the finish line area.

“That was their first face-to-face encounter with world history,” Wrubel said of his daughters. “They coped the best they could.”

His daughter Brenna, now a fifth-grader at Haine Middle School, took notes and later made a presentation about that day to classmates.

“They learned not only a lesson in facing fears, but a lesson that, in America, there are very powerful people that can help you,” said Wrubel, chief technology officer at Think Through Learning Inc., an online math instruction service. “The police will help you. The government will help you. The legal system will help you. You're not alone in facing what you're scared of.”

Taking no chances

Patti Clark, of Center, won't be on the sidelines this year cheering on her husband, Bob, when he runs his fourth Boston Marathon and his 24th marathon overall.

In 2013, she was about four blocks from the blasts, waiting for her husband to run by.

The first blast, Clark, 62, said, sounded like bleachers or scaffolding collapsing. Moments later, after the second blast, she saw people running and smoke filter into the sky. Boston police stopped runners and began herding people away from the blast zone.

Police stopped Bob Clark about three-tenths of a mile from the finish line, telling him, “Your race is over.” Cell phone service was overloaded, so the Clarks could not contact each other until they both returned to their hotel room for an emotional reunion about 90 minutes later.

“That was a pretty nice feeling knowing we were safe,” said Bob Clark, 65, a retired maintenance supervisor for AK Steel who survived throat cancer in 2005.

But this year, Clark said, he's going alone.

“I'm not taking that chance,” Clark said, “I don't want anyone getting hurt watching me run.”

“I would have gone,” Patti Clark said. “I really had no qualms about going, but he didn't want anyone to go.”

Stepped up security

Mark Shipley, 38, of Cranberry has been running marathons for 11 years, but this is the first time he's qualified for the Boston Marathon.

“Even though it wasn't an attack on the running community, it felt like it,” Shipley said. “It just brought everybody together quickly. The running community is tight anyway, but this made it stronger.”

His wife, Tracey, and daughter Charley, 2, have been spectators at his past races, but they won't be in Boston. Shipley said they're simply unfamiliar with the city and with the tighter security, “I know how crazy it will be.” He plans on running with about 15 friends, some from Pittsburgh.

In the fall, Shipley said he ran the Chicago Marathon, the first major one after Boston.

“While security was extremely visible and tight, it wasn't intrusive. You could tell they were on top of things,” he said.

Shipley said he expects that at the Boston Marathon this year “everything will be safe.”

Clark agrees. Citing new security measures — including the prohibition of backpacks and baby strollers, and requirements to carry items in clear plastic bags — he said “it'll probably be the safest place in the United States.”

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.


Show commenting policy