2014 Boston Marathon an inspirational experience local runners will never forget

By Karen Billing

A total of 40 local athletes from Carmel Valley, Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe and Solana Beach competed in this year’s Boston Marathon, by all accounts a magical, inspirational race where Boston came roaring back stronger than ever after last year’s bombing in which three people were killed, hundreds injured and 16 people lost limbs.

For the first time since 1983 an American man won the race and he just happened to be San Diego’s own Meb Keflezighi.

The fastest local male finisher was 33-year-old Todd Brehm of Del Mar who raced his first Boston in 2:55:33. The fastest local female was just a hair off Brehm’s time —Carmel Valley’s Angela Moll, 37, finished in 2:55:44 and cracked the top 100 finishers in her gender and division. Moll was the 76th in her age division and 90th in her gender.

The youngest participants were 29-year-old Del Mar resident Jessica Sebor who finished in 3:18:13 and 29-year-old Rory Golden of Carmel Valley, who got in under-three hours with a time of 2:57:08.

Bob Hubbard of Solana Beach was the oldest local participant. At age 71, he completed his 10th Boston Marathon and of the 31,805 people who finished the marathon this year, Hubbard was one of only 298 participants that were over the age of 70.

Last year Hubbard was at mile 23 when he was halted on the course due to the bombings. His most immediate concern was the safety of his wife, Marilee, who had been waiting for him near the finish.

“The biggest problem and source of anxiety was the inability to communicate to verify each other’s safety,” Hubbard said.

Hubbard is also a triathlete and he likes to use Boston as a way to begin preparing for the competitive triathlon season (he will compete in the World Duathlon Championships in Spain on June 1). It has become tradition for him to participate.

“Every year is different at Boston and there is always the unexpected. I have run in perfect as well as extreme weather conditions, including heat waves of 95 degrees and heavy rain storms,” Hubbard said.

Last year’s challenge was unexpected for all involved. To find his wife, Hubbard had to parallel the course working back to the finish area to a restaurant where he had planned to meet up with Marilee and others for a post-race celebration. By the time he eventually reached her, he had covered about 30 miles that day.

“A few members of our group who were near the explosion received some minor scratches but nothing serious.” Hubbard said. “All have experiences that they will not soon forget.”

“I will never forget walking back to my hotel immediately after finishing the race this year,” said Craig Zelent of Carlsbad, who trains with Hubbard and completed his 12th Boston Marathon and his wife, Laurie, her completed her 18th Boston Marathon. “I listened. I heard all the sounds that should be heard after the race. I heard no sirens. It was just about the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard.”

Carmel Valley’s Deanna Lyle, 47, was also kept from finishing last year — as she was making the final turn on Boylston Street, .3 miles from the finish she saw police officers running at her telling her she needed to stop.

“I heard the bombs go off but didn’t know what they were,” Lyle said. “It was really crazy with people running and screaming to get out of the area.”

It was really important for Lyle to come back this year and finish the event that she wasn’t able to last year. Her co-worker at the Rush Studio in Carmel Valley, Sheri Matthews had already qualified for 2014 and Lyle was determined to get there too, holding a charity spin class to benefit the Boston Fund for Challenged Athletes Foundation, helping to purchase a running leg for a bombing victim.

Both crossed the finish line last week, pushed by the spirit and support of the crowd.

“This was my third time running the Boston Marathon and by far the best time ever,” said Lyle. “I was overcome with emotion when I crossed the finish line this year.”

Last year Jessica Sebor had finished her first Boston Marathon and was recovering in her hotel room when the blast occurred.

“I remember hearing a loud sound but I assumed it was nothing serious, scaffolding falling perhaps,” Sebor said. “When I heard what happened I immediately tried to locate my friends and colleagues who were running and watching. The hotels went on lockdown, cell phones didn’t work and everyone was in shock as we tried to piece together what had happened.”

Sebor, who is the editor-in-chief of Women’s Running Magazine, re-qualified for the race at Boston and hadn’t planned on returning but after the tragedy she knew she had to go back to support the sport and the city she loves.

She was glad that she did — it was an emotional experience that she said she is still trying to fully grasp.

“There were easily twice the spectators as normal and the crowds cheered like it was their job,” Sebor said.

The city came alive again — little girls handed out blue and yellow friendship bracelets, frat guys passed out beers, and families with homes on the course offered water and orange slices.

“This race wasn’t just about the runners, it was a true community effort, a show of strength,” Sebor said. “My friend, who was near the finish line last year, said the crowds were so loud she was sure her ears hadn’t rang in the same way since she heard the explosions in 2013. I think that’s a really beautiful parallel to show how the city of runners fought back.”

Carmel Valley’s Randy Rechs, 45, completed his fourth Boston Marathon this year as part of Team Hoyt, the father-son team of Dick and Rick Hoyt. Since 1977, Dick has pushed his son, Rick, who has cerebral palsy, in a wheelchair through 1,100 athletic events and more than 30 Boston Marathons. Last year was supposed to be Dick’s last Boston Marathon, as he neared age 74 and Rick was age 52, but they never got the chance to finish due to the bombings.

Rechs had traveled to Boston last year to support his team but was unable to run the race due to an injury. Fifteen minutes before his plane landed in San Diego, the bombs went off and he watched the reports on CNN on his plane’s TV.

“Twenty-five of my dearest friends were in that grandstand area where I was supposed to be,” said Rechs, who had left on Marathon Monday to get home to coach his daughter’s softball team. As no one’s cell phones were working, he found out through Facebook updates that everyone was OK.

“The team made the decision immediately to go back the next year and take back the finish line,” Rechs said.

It was an “emotion-packed” race as not only was Boston coming back strong but it was Dick’s last race with Rick. This year Team Hoyt was able to raise over $20,000 for the Hoyt Foundation for children with disabilities and for the Boston Children’s Hospital.

“This year was bigger, better, more electric,” Rechs said. “The crowds were amazing…The crowd carries you. When you’re in trouble and struggling and your leg is cramping, the crowd is always there to pick you up…They take their marathons seriously.”

As the Hoyts start two hours ahead, the rest of the team has to try and catch up to them. This year, Rech caught up at mile 23 and 20 members of the team crossed the finish line together. Next year, Rick will run again with team member Bryan Lyons taking over for Dick. Rechs plans to return as well.

“It’s the best race I’ve ever done,” Rech said of Boston. “After I ran my first marathon, (Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego in 1999) I vowed I would never do another one, but when the opportunity came up to run for the Hoyt Foundation in 2010, I took it and I’ve been at it ever since.”

Carmel Valley resident Bernie Sidney, 50, recalls passing Team Hoyt while she ran a very emotional marathon in Boston. Sidney had qualified for Boston running Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego in 2013 on no sleep and little food, two days after the father of her two children passed away. Boston’s loss felt like her loss, she said, and while she primarily races Ironman-distance triathlons, she had to be part of the historical event this year.

“People were cheering from mile one to mile 26.2, the town was like one. I was trying to remember every single thing at this race, I don’t ever want to forget it. I started the race crying and as I passed the Hoyt family, I lost it completely,” said Sidney. “I felt like I was running in front of my family cheering me on. I loved every step I took on that race, it seemed like it went too fast for me.”

As he watched the horrible events unfold on TV in 2013, it never occurred to Rancho Santa Fe’s Dan Minteer that he would ever run the Boston Marathon, much less run it the very next year.

“I had only run a single marathon and I was nowhere near qualifying,” said Minteer, 64.

He ran the June 2013 Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon with no goals of qualifying for Boston but found out that he had. “When I found out later that I had qualified, I wanted to be part of the Boston Marathon and play a small role in showing the world that acts of terror will not destroy what is great in this country.”

Minteer said the running community and the city of Boston came together and sent a message loud and clear that the Boston Marathon had not only survived but had come back even stronger than before.

“It was a wonderful experience in Boston. People thanked you for coming; I thanked them for putting on such a great event.” Minteer said. “The roar of the crowds as the runners went through the course was unlike anything I had ever experienced. The people of Boston and their marathon are back. It was a special treat that an American man won for the first time in 31 years — a runner from San Diego no less. I was honored to be there.”

Other Del Mar finishers:

Janet Chenier (58), Christian Heckscher (62), Marian Holland (41), Megan Mohebbi (60), James Pathman (49), Daniel Pippel (40), Laura Sasaki (50) and Jene Shaw (30).

Other Carmel Valley finishers:

Todd Alcantara (37), Khalil Ashtari (61), Ben Broussard (51), Kelsey Cannon (34), Reza Ghazinouri (56), Paul Gibbs (49), Deb Hoffman (46), Mark Kelley (53), Shellene Murphy (42), Bryan Pruden (44), Renee Ramsdell (46), Kellie Rolph (51), Robert Seligman (53), Bernadette Sidney (50), Traci Vander Molen (31), Anthony Vincent (44), Patti Whiting (44) and Mary Pat Wilson (47).

Other Solana Beach finishers:

Scott Fischel (47), Karen Gordon (56), Jason Kramer (44) and Terri Melink (61).

Other Rancho Santa Fe finishers:

Omar Bouhaddou (57) and Heidi Nevin (40).