Carnage in Boston

The Boston Marathon is a positive event, not a negative one.

That makes the bombs that went off at the finish line Monday all the more incongruous, said Jacob Malcomb, a Marietta High School graduate who finished the race prior to the blasts.

“It was a shock – one ’cause I had just been on that block 20 minutes before,” said Malcomb, 25, of Canton, N.Y. “That just seems so out of synch with the atmosphere of that event.”

Just qualifying for the marathon is an achievement, finishing it a milestone as well. Mixing with those individual accomplishments is the support of spectators cheering the runners on, Malcomb said.

“It’s such a special event,” he said, pointing out that he was running the same course as elite runners from around the globe. “There aren’t very many sports where you can compete against the best in the world as just a regular athlete.”

Malcomb was one of several runners with local ties in Monday’s event, along with a number of Mid-Ohio Valley natives living in or visiting Boston. News of the explosions sent many area residents to their phones and computers to check on the status of friends and family in the area.

“It’s been a constant stream of Facebook messages, text messages and phone calls,” said Thomas Simers, 31, who lives in Quincy, Mass., and grew up in Washington County’s Adams Township.

Simers and his fiance were on the subway, heading right toward the Copley Square area near the finish line when he saw a Facebook update on his phone about the explosions. Moments later, “they start announcing a delay on the train with no explanation,” he said.

The couple eventually made their way home, avoiding the subway lines still open in part because they didn’t want to add to the congestion but also because that could have been a target for further destruction.

“It was kind of nerve-racking, trying to figure out the safest and best way home,” he said.

But the confusion and fear were likely worse, Simers said, for the many people visiting the city for the marathon or other Patriot Day events, like Monday’s Boston Red Sox game.

Former Marietta Times reporter Christian Hudspeth is staying in Boston with his brother’s family and they watched part of the race about half a mile away from the finish line Monday. They had left the area about an hour-and-a-half before the bombs went off.

“The day before, we had walked right by the finish line,” he said.

“Even the day before, it was just so crowded,” Hudspeth said. “It’s a little scary. It’s a little unnerving to think that something” like that could happen. “But mostly you’re worried about the families of those affected.”

A few members of the local River City Runners and Walkers Club were competing in the event, and club members used the group’s Facebook page to communicate and find out if they had been accounted for safely.

“I was actually running at the time when a stranger stopped us on the street and told us about it,” said Parkersburg resident Eric Stanley, 34, a member of the club’s board.

Malcomb’s mother, Peggy, didn’t have much time to wonder how her son was doing. She didn’t know what had happened until he called her shortly after the news broke to tell her he was all right.

Peggy Malcomb, of Marietta, said the marathon had added significance for her son.

“He always wanted to do it, ever since his father did it,” she said.

And Jacob Malcomb said that even after Monday’s events, he would do it again.

“I’m sad and appalled by what happened,” he said. “I think it’s still a great event, and it will continue to be.”

Stanley, who ran the Boston marathon in 2011, said the bombing won’t give him pause about competing in another high-profile marathon.

“You can’t live your life in fear,” he said.