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Area runners recount close calls at Boston Marathon

Posted at 9:59 PM, Apr 16, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-17 00:05:26-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Several Richmonders who particpated in Monday's Boston Marathon returned home Tuesday with heavy hearts.

Phil Gibrall, who caught an earlier flight home than originally scheduled, says it's been difficult thinking about the tragic bombings that claimed the lives of three people and injured several others.

The race was Gibrall's sixth and final Boston Marathon.

"It's awful," Gibrall says. "I have a 7 year-old girl and an 8 year-old child was killed. I can't imagine what that family is going through."

Gibrall's family, including his two children, previously stood just feet from where the victims of the blast were standing but decided to return to the hotel.

Gibrall says he crossed the finish line only thirty minutes before the explosions, and was standing two blocks away when the blasts occurred, just seconds apart.

"People were running up and down the street, crying and hysterical," Gibrall says.

Gibrall's running partner, also from Richmond, crossed the finish line just three minutes before the explosions, and was still standing in the staging area.

650 Virginians registered to run in the Boston Marathon, including nearly 100 from the Richmond area. Virginia Supreme Court Justice Bill Mims was among the registered runners and returned to court on Tuesday.

Laura Chessin, a VCU teacher who finished the marathon just fifteen minutes before the tragedy, says many Richmond runners are thankful to be safely at home with their families.

"I think people were just frightened," Chessin says.

Chessin says many are now united in grief and prayers for the victims and those facing long recoveries.