Flathead Runners Complete Historic Boston Marathon Year After Attack

By Beacon Staff

A year after bombs rocked the finish line, nearly 32,000 runners competed in the Boston Marathon on April 21, including seven from the Flathead Valley.

Leading the pack on Monday’s race was Meb Keflezighi, who became the first American man to win the marathon since 1983, finishing with a time of 2 hours and 8 minutes, his personal best for Boston. Rita Jeptoo of Kenya became a three-time female winner of the marathon with a time of 2 hours and 18 minutes, a women’s course-record.

More than 70 Montanans participated in the 118th edition of the Boston Marathon. Of the seven runners from the Flathead Valley, Kalispell’s Richard Briles led the pack and finished the race at 3 hours and 14 minutes, five minutes faster than his time last year. This year marked Briles’ fifth trip to the marathon.

“It was just awesome, I’m so glad I went,” Briles told the Beacon shortly after finishing. “The crowds were bigger and louder than ever.”

Six other Flathead Valley runners finished the race on April 21. Russell Skelton of Kalispell finished in 3 hours and 18 minutes; Ted Burnham, a teacher at Glacier High School, crossed the finish line in 3 hours and 33 minutes; Jabby Young of Whitefish finished in 3 hours and 34 minutes; Andi Romano of Bigfork crossed the finish line in 4 hours and 16 minutes; Lucrecia Lobbestael of Bigfork finished in 4 hours and 20 minutes; and William Anderson, 75, of Columbia Falls finished in 4 hours and 22 minutes, taking 11th place in his division.

Among the top finishers from the Treasure State, Mark Handelman, 27, of Missoula finished in 2:33.53, earning 147th place overall and 126th among male competitors. Trisha Drobeck, 33, of Missoula, finished in 2:46.28 and was the 38th overall female finisher. Scott Sneddon, 51, of Billings, clocked 2:46.10 and was 15th in his age division.

More than 1 million people lined the 26.2-mile route from the suburbs to downtown Boston, twice the usual number. About 3,500 law enforcement officers were also on hand.

On April 15, 2013, two bombs detonated 12 seconds apart near the finish line on Boylston Street. The bombs, which killed three people and injured more than 250 others, were allegedly constructed and planted by two Chechen brothers living in Boston named Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. According to federal prosecutors, after planting the explosives, the brothers slipped back into the crowd and disappeared for three days before police tracked them down in a sprawling manhunt on the morning of April 19. Tamerlan, 26, died during an early morning shootout with police, while Dzhokhar, 19, fled the scene, resulting in a daylong search that shut down the entire city of Boston. Dzhokhar was captured later that night, bloodied and wounded, and a year later is still awaiting trial.

A brief moment of silence was held during this year’s race at 2:49 p.m., the time the two bombs went off. A memorial service was also held last week on the anniversary of the attack.

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