The Suburbanite
  • Stark runners witness chaos at Boston Marathon

  • Canton’s Bob Common had just finished his first Boston Marathon. He collected his medal, a “lifelong dream.”

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  • Canton’s Bob Common had just finished his first Boston Marathon. He collected his medal, a “lifelong dream.”
    Then all hell broke loose.
    Two bombs exploded near the finish line of the 26.2-mile course Monday around 2:50 p.m.
    “I knew it was a bomb,” said Common, who was standing 200 yards from the scene of the explosions. “It was so loud. One explosion and about 10 seconds later, a second one.
    “I turned and white smoke was billowing up the top of the buildings. Those buildings are tall and smoke just shot up there.”
    Common said the scene unfolded quickly around him as he hurriedly left the area.
    “It was chaos, a mess,” said the 54-year-old, a longtime local runner who helped design the course for last year’s Canton Marathon. “There were cops, SWAT, ambulances, everybody.
    “People were just stunned. I just had a numb feeling.”
    The Associated Press reports that at least two were killed in the explosions and more than 100 were injured.
    “My wife, Lyn, had stayed in Danvers,” Common said. “She would have been standing around the finish line, she usually goes with me.”
    A field of about 23,000 runners ran in the race, including at least 25 from Stark County.
    Jackson Township’s Ray Fryan described the chaos surrounding the explosions as “very scary.”
    Fryan also had some good news.
    “We have talked to all the Stark County runners who are staying at the hotel, and all are safe and accounted for,” he said.
    Fryan, 52, and his daughter, Brigitte, 24, had completed the race more than an hour before the explosions. Ray’s wife, Peggy, left the scene with them and they returned to their downtown hotel.
    Jerry and Deana Fresenko were also sitting tight at their hotel at dinner time. They had just finished their first Boston race, Jerry in 2:49.32 and Deana in 3:46.52, and were excited about their efforts.
    “She had just finished, and we were walking away, we left about 10 minutes before the explosion,” said Jerry Fresenko, a longtime track and cross country coach at Louisville High School. “The next thing (we know) there were police, fire trucks, ambulances everywhere.
    “We had no idea what was happening. We got back to the hotel and said ‘Holy smoke!’ We were just glad to get back.”
    Bob Sudomir of Louisville had been to Boston for 15 previous marathons. His 16th was unlike anything imaginable.
    “This truly is the last thing in the world I expected to happen,” said Sudomir, the boys cross country coach at Louisville High School. “It never crossed my mind” there could be bombs exploding.
    “With the exception of the marathon, there really isn’t anything here that would have caused that type of explosion other than (terrorism),” Sudomir said.
    Page 2 of 2 - Massillon’s Tony Muller — who is also a correspondent for The Suburbanite, which is a publication of Gatehouse Ohio Media like The Repository — was another first-time Boston qualifier. He was stoked after completing the race in a time of 3:55:43.
    “After the finish, you get your medal and award, food, and we were waiting at the bus for our gear (to be brought from the starting line),” said Muller. “I was about one-tenth of a mile when I heard the explosion.
    “It was a big boom. A big cloud of smoke. Then another one went off. Then everyone was panicking. They shut down the course and it was just really weird.”
    The race itself no longer mattered.
    “It took all my life to get here,” Common said. “ ... I get my medal ... and people are dead.”

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