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Putnam runners honor Boston bombing victims

HURRICANE, W.Va. -- Jeff Ranson instantly recognized Rich Boehm on Sunday by his bright yellow 2013 Boston Marathon running shirt. Ranson was wearing a similar one.

Ranson, of Hurricane, and Boehm, of Scott Depot, met on a Boston-bound plane last week with a few things in common -- both runners from West Virginia excited to participate in the Boston Marathon for the first time.

During Sunday's run at Hurricane Wave Pool Park, which was held to honor the Boston Marathon bombing victims, the two realized they had even more in common. 

Both had about a half-mile left to run when the two bombs that left three dead and more than 180 people injured exploded near the marathon's finish line. Both had wives waiting for them at that finish line. Both were happy to be alive and unharmed. And, both planned to finish that half-mile on Sunday on behalf of the victims.

"Today I wear this proudly," Ranson said, donning the same shirt he wore at the marathon.

"No doubt," Boehm said.

About 250 people showed for Sunday's running event, raising more than $3,200 for a Boston Marathon Victims Fund set up at First Sentry Bank in Huntington. The money will go directly to the Boston Center for Independent Living to help those who lost limbs in the bombings.

Ranson said he runs the Hurricane trail all the time, but Sunday was different.

"We want to do anything we can to support them -- they went through so much. I don't really care about the finish line or the medal today," he said.

Sunday's run, sponsored by the Tallman Track Club and TriStateRacer.com, was special to Boehm, too, but for reasons in addition to honoring the bombing victims.

He had gone to the Boston Marathon to raise money for cancer research after his mom died in November. He managed to raise $5,500, but never got to finish the race.

"In the perspective of things, it doesn't mean a whole lot, but the race for me was bittersweet. I was able to raise money for a cure, and today is definitely symbolic of far more than that," he said. "The city of Boston was remarkable in the way that everyone stepped up. People in the crowd were helping other runners and letting strangers stay in their homes that night."

Boehm didn't run with his phone on him that day, but was able to borrow a phone to text his wife and tell her to meet him at a specific location. He was relieved when he received a response.

"The race came to a stop real quick. The word I got was that there was an accident up ahead, so my first thought was that a runner had a health issue or something. I didn't know it was as serious as it was," he said. "I wasn't having a great day running, and I was worried about my wife who I knew was waiting at the finish line."

Boehm's wife, Kara, was also running at Sunday's event, and said the feeling is still surreal.

"I was by myself, somehow in between the two bombs. I wasn't sure what to do after that. It didn't feel real at the time," she said. "I just didn't know what to do. We tried to react the best way we could."

Wendy Lucas, of Winfield, watched her 11-year-old daughter run in Sunday's event, and said it's difficult as a parent to explain what happened.

"We watched the news coverage, and it's overwhelming. It's hard to explain to your kids," she said. "I didn't want to scare her, but this is the world we live in."

Lucas said her daughter feels better knowing that she's donated money and ran for the cause, and said she was happy to see so many West Virginians reaching out in a time of need.

"It's personal," she said. "Just because it's America, it's personal."

Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.mays@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.


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