A Springfield runner and college track coach was safe after two explosions shut down the Boston Marathon on Monday, resulting in at least two deaths and as many as two dozen injuries, according to initial reports.
Kevin Frick, an assistant track coach at Wittenberg University, was not injured in the attack, but was still shaken by the events, said Craig Penney, head coach for Wittenberg University’s cross country and track and field programs.
Frick was the only runner from Clark or Champaign counties who registered for the race, according to information from the Boston Marathon website.
“We’re all glad that he’s OK and hope the casualties aren’t very severe,” Penney said.
Penney, speaking shortly after the news broke, said he had been in contact with Frick via text message only due to poor cell phone reception.
Penney said Frick’s training went well, and this is the second time Frick has run the race. Frick, a former Wittenberg cross country and track athlete, joined the Tigers coaching staff in 2011.
Frick is from the Grandview Heights area, a suburb of Columbus, Penney said. Frick could not be reached for comment Monday night.
“He’s really shook up about the whole thing,” Penney said.
The explosions also caused organizers of several local races to reevaluate safety precautions at area events.
Darris Blackford, race director for the Columbus Marathon, had run in the Boston race Monday with his wife Star. He was in his hotel room and rushed to the window when he heard the first explosion.
“I could see the smoke and the chaos of everyone scrambling and running,” he said.
Blackford initially feared for his wife’s safety but soon discovered she had finished the race just five to 10 minutes before the explosions. She was unharmed.
“The innocence of this activity is gone,” Blackford said.
The Columbus race, held annually the third Sunday of October, draws thousands of runners and spectators each year. Blackford said race organizers already work closely with local firefighters and police officers, but will likely consider additional ways to increase security. Nearly 50 residents from Clark and Champaign County participated in the Columbus Marathon last year.
“My heart goes out to those that have been injured and those who lost their lives,” Blackford said.
Officials at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base also said they have contingency plans in place to deal with scenarios like the explosions that struck Boston. However, it is too early to say whether security measures at the WPAFB marathon will change in light of the incident in Boston.
“… But I’m sure as this investigation rolls out, we will take it into account and look at our procedures in light of it,” Daryl Mayer, base spokesman, said.
Other Miami Valley residents who had family members who participated also scrambled to get information from their loved ones.
Julie Weddenburn of Xenia, the mother of participant Leslie Weddenburn, spoke to her daughter by phone and said her daughter ran the marathon and is there with a sister and brother.
All three were in a restaurant and heard the explosions, Julie Weddenburn said. The mother said her daughter reported that they were told to stay put and to not use their cell phones except for brief calls.
The first of two loud explosions was heard just a few hours after the winners crossed the finish line. The first explosion reportedly occurred on the north side of Boylston Street, just before the photo bridge that marks the finish line. Another explosion was heard seconds later.
Carrie Apling, of Liberty Twp., ran in the marathon Monday and said she was about 200 feet away when the first explosion occurred.
“The group I was with, everyone is OK,” Apling said. “It was pretty scary as soon as the first explosion went off. You just saw a bunch of smoke and everyone was just stunned, and then the second explosion went off. The city is pretty crazy right now. It’s pretty intense. “