West Liberty University Head Cross Country Coach Eric Laughlin finished the Boston Marathon, despite the terror that followed when two bombs erupted at the finish line, killing three and injuring more than 100.
“I ran it and had a good time during the race. I had just finished and was walking to the hotel when the first bomb went off. It sounded like a cannon. I saw the second bomb go off. There was lots of smoke and everyone running. We tried to help get everyone out of the area. Then I went back to my hotel, the Marriott Riverfront, which isn’t far from the finish line,” Laughlin said.
The attack was the worst on American soil since September 11, 2001, when al Qaeda militants flew hijacked airliners into New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing nearly 3,000 people.
This was the 117th running of the Boston Marathon, which is the pinnacle of many runners’ training. It is held annually on Patriots’ Day, which commemorates the battles of Lexington and Concord, fought near Boston in 1775.
Laughlin is expected back on campus later this afternoon if all goes as expected at the airport where he boards his flight home around 2 p.m. He said he’s looking forward to returning to campus and seeing his team. He found it frustrating that he couldn’t call out during the turmoil due to security shutting down cell phone service.
Overall though, Laughlin has a great attitude about his Boston Marathon experience.
“Everyone from Wheeling finished the race. And as anyone who’s attended the race knows, Boston is a great experience, fans are three deep the whole run. My time was 3 hours and 12 minutes. I’m not disappointed with that time, it’s Boston — so I’m not disappointed.”
The Track and Field and Cross Country programs have grown significantly under Laughlin and Coach David Bell’s leadership over the past two years. The 2012-2013 Cross Country and Track and Field teams numbered 52 student athletes this season.