West Slope runners see devastation firsthand in Boston

At least seven people from the Western Slope were registered to run in the Boston Marathon Monday. A few of them crossed the finish line before explosions ripped through the crowd.

One of them was Christine Gieszl, doctor of internal medicine at the Montrose Veterans Affairs center. She finished about 20 minutes before the explosions, and was hanging around the runner’s village with her husband about a quarter-mile from the finish line.

“We heard the blast, turned around and could see smoke,” Gieszl said, adding she initially thought the explosions were from a historic cannon.

“That’s what it sounded like. But my husband got this really bad look on his face,” she said Monday afternoon.

“All the sudden they were hurrying people away, and everybody’s demeanor changed—in a second, pretty much.”

Glenwood Springs attorney Scott Grosscup was running the race with his younger brother and his father. He and his brother had finished, and were waiting a couple blocks away for their dad to finish when they heard two explosions.

“And then the runners stopped coming in,” Grosscup said. “Everyone was trying to figure out what was going on, and what happened, and how do we find people?”

Grosscup eventually found his father, who had been stopped at mile 25 and was not able to finish the race.

“It was scary,” Grosscup remembered. “It didn’t make sense—that there would be explosions, obviously.”

Another area runner who ran in the race was Sharma Phillips, of Glenwood Springs. Phillips sent a text message to her co-workers at Bed, Bath and Beyond that she was back at her hotel before the bombs went off. An employee at the store said Monday, “She is fine … she is fabulous.”

Other runners from the region who registered for the race, but could not be reached for comment, include Frances Bono, 41, of Montrose; Robert Lopez, 57, of Grand Junction; Kevin O’Brien, 54, of Paonia; and Sarah Ward, 38, of Rangely.

Runners and friends of runners took to social media in the immediate aftermath of the incident.

Former congressman and gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez wrote in a Facebook post:

“Just got word that our friend Jennifer Schubert-Akin, who was running her 19th Boston Marathon, finished 2 minutes before the explosion. She and her husband Rick are okay. Claudia and I are shocked at the tragedy in Boston and praying for those affected,” he wrote.

Schubert-Akin was one of five people from Steamboat Springs registered for the race.

More than 21,5000 runners finished the Boston Marathon last year.

This was the first time running in the historic race for both Grosscup and Gieszl.

“I was so excited when I finished, and I had such a great time,” Grosscup said. “It puts a sort of tale of sadness on it for sure.”

Reached on Monday afternoon, Gieszl described her emotional state as “a mess.”

“This city has just shut down. It’s a very eerie feeling here,” she said. She wondered if she and her husband would be able to catch their scheduled early-morning flight out of Boston back to Montrose.

“It’s the most disconcerting feeling that I’ve ever had in my life. I feel like nothing is secure,” she said. “I can’t believe this happened to the Boston Marathon.”

Sentinel staff writer Allen Gemaehlich contributed to this report.


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