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April 16, 2013

Sad day for the sport, local marathoner says

---- — Grove City resident and running enthusiast Mark Courtney was one of several Mercer Countians in Boston for Monday’s marathon.

Courtney finished the race in 3:12:48, a little more than an hour before the bombs went off near the finish line, he said.

“It’s terrible,” he said from his room at the Colonnade Hotel a few blocks from the bombing scene Monday evening.

“It’s a very sad day for running and for the sport,” he said.

He and his wife Debbie spent the weekend in Beantown before Courtney ran his 34th Boston Marathon.

None of the runners in the western Pennsylvania region whom he knows made the trip were hurt in the blasts, Courtney said.

His wife, Debbie, however did hear the blasts while on her way back to the hotel, Courtney said.

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, he said.

They’re people who “worked hard and long to earn money for a charity,” he said. They started 60 minutes behind the initial pack of runners and were the ones who weren’t able to finish, he said.

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

“This whole thing is right downtown and every runner has a bag and every spectator has a bag,” he said. “I don’t know how (this) is going to impact other events.”

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

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