Harford residents take part in first Boston marathon since 2013 bombings

Joe Barger, of Fallston, wasn't nervous about running in this year's Boston Marathon, but his children were, at least a bit.

His 15-year-old daughter, Keegan, got upset when her parents asked her to step in on part of a relay race during the Baltimore marathon last year.

"She said, 'Mom, I was afraid there would be a bombing at the end of the race,'" he recalled.

Despite more worries from his 10-year-old, Barger joined the tens of thousands of runners who flooded the streets of Boston Monday for the marathon's return after last year's terrorism attacks.

Barger and his brother, Tim, both Fallston High School graduates, were two of several Harford residents who either ran in the race or joined spectators in a show of support for the city.

Barger, who has run in three previous Boston marathons, but missed last year's, said the crowd was overwhelming and the event had a special atmosphere.

He said he almost wanted to walk instead of run toward the end so he could soak in the spirit of the day.

As he rounded mile 19, and "Heartbreak Hill," Barger said the numbers of people grew and grew.

"It was very uplifting. The crowd was extremely loud. It was amazing," he said.

He did not know exactly where he placed, but noted it took him about four hours to finish the race. Barger was running to raise money for Athletes Serving Athletes, a charity helping athletes with disabilities.

"We said, 'Let's just run it, have a great time and be a part of it,'" he said. With the rough winter, "we did not do very many long runs. It was more just to get out, be part of the atmosphere."

Security was tight, but Barger was not nervous about any incidents.

"It was remarkable, just being there, a part of it, just the support of the city kind of coming back together in support, obviously, of those who lost their lives," Barger said.

"It was exciting just to be a part of it and witness it," he said.

Harford library director Mary Hastler, whose daughter, Samantha, was back to run in the renowned marathon, said she was nervous about returning to the site where three were killed and more than 260 injured near the finish line.

"I was anxious about it and emotional, worried about her, wanting her to be safe and wanting everyone else to be safe," Hastler said. "I think everybody was just a little bit tense."

Both Hastler and her daughter, a 2001 graduate of The John Carroll School in Bel Air and a resident of Boston, were at the race last year. Hastler was at the same spot, on Hereford Street, where she was during the ill-fated marathon.

"It was emotional and there was a moment of silence [at the time] when the bombs went off last year," she said. "There was a lot of respect."

"You are always tense leading up to a marathon anyway if you are a runner and then you add this on top of it," she said.

This time, there were security personnel checking bags and putting stickers on items to identify ones that had been checked, she said.

"It was not intrusive," Hastler said of the security, noting the entire event "was great."

Hastler said she was not sure how her daughter placed overall. Her focus, as it was for many people, was just to finish.

"It was a good race. It was a good run for everybody," she said. "She was really pleased to finish this year."

Despite Hastler's apprehension, "I am glad we went back," she said.

Her daughter "really wanted to finish this year and she was determined to go back, and nothing was going to stop her," Hastler said.

"It was nice to see the people who would make that turn [on the course] and a few people were crying as they made that turn," she recalled.

"It was a lot of emotion, but a lot of positive energy that was going on," she said, adding the weather was perfect.

Many people wore "Boston Strong" shirts and a lot of runners were supporting individual causes, she said.

"It was a good crowd," she said. "Everyone was in a good mood."

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad