The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Northumberland County

April 21, 2014

‘Pumped up’ crowds greet Valley marathon runners

BOSTON — Bob Welby ran his eighth Boston Marathon on Monday and said this was unlike any other he had experienced, although he finished with a “slow time” of just under 4 hours.

“It was a great experience,” the Northumberland resident said. “I think it’s one for the books.”

The crowds at the first Boston Marathon since the bombings that killed three people and injured hundreds were “pumped up,” giving people high fives and holding signs reading “Boston Strong,” Welby said.

“It was unbelievable,” he said. “If you reacted to the crowd, they reacted back to you 10 times over.”

Lewisburg’s Maria Bhangdia, who was in the staging area of the race when the explosions happened last year, also noticed an increased level of enthusiasm at this year’s race, her third time running the Boston Marathon.

“There was more of a spirit about it,” she said. “This city has always had a spirit, but this year, it seemed defined and there was a sense of unity.”

Bhangdia finished the race in 3 hours, 44 minutes this year.

The crowds “seemed thrilled to see runners back on the course again,” said Mark Sullivan, of Freeburg, who has run in 28 consecutive Boston Marathons.

“It was really upbeat,” he said.

A number of individuals from the Susquehanna Valley were registered to run in the marathon, according to the Boston Athletic Association website, including 11 runners from Lewisburg, four from Danville and others from Middleburg, Northumberland, Freeburg and Watsontown.

David Cipoletti, of Lewisburg, was the top local finisher in the race, completing the course in 2 hours, 48 minutes and in 806th place overall out of more than 30,000 runners, according to the association website.

And while security was high at the event — all three runners noted seeing more police along the route this year — the security process was efficient.

“Everything went pretty smoothly,” Welby said. “There were tons of volunteers. The bus from the Commons (to the start) was smooth, everything went quite well.”

There were some “minor inconveniences” for runners due to security changes, according to Sullivan, who finished the marathon in 3 hours, 17 minutes.

“There were no bags at the start,” he said. “Usually you take a pair of sweats or something. ... But it wasn’t overwhelming inconveniences, just minor inconveniences.”

The idea that another terrorist attack could happen did not cause pause for the athletes.

“We felt very strongly that (organizers) were going to do a very great job,” Welby said.

Bhangdia said she “definitely” would continue to run the Boston Marathon.

“It was great,” she said. “It was great to be here this year and be a part of the race this year because of the events of last year.”

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