The Norman Transcript

April 16, 2013

Oklahoma runners finish race safely

By Joy Hampton and Caitlin Schudalla
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Oklahoma runner Jason Butler finished the Boston marathon in 2 hours and 41 minutes. His family was waiting to cheer him on from the finish line. Butler returned to the hotel to clean up before heading out to dinner.

The family never made it to the restaurant.

At 4:11 on the clock time, Butler, of south Oklahoma City, said two bombs went off across the street from where his loved ones had cheered him across the finish line.

“It’s been chaotic,” Butler said. “We were going out to eat and people were coming back and we didn’t know what was going on. We overheard it.”

The family returned to the hotel. A woman at the hotel was very shaken up and emotional.

“She heard two explosions and she came around the corner and they wouldn’t let her down there,” Butler said. “She was obviously shaken up by it. I think they’ve pretty much shut down the city.”

“All the Oklahomans that I know of, that I’ve heard from, are OK,” Butler said. He said Adam Cohen, of Norman, finished shortly behind him.

“He was about a minute behind me,” Butler said. “Some friends I have from Edmond are OK and Ian Campbell and his wife are OK.”

“The footage I’ve seen and the accounts I’ve heard of the events are absolutely heartbreaking,” Cohen said. “It’s impossible to know the impact this bombing will have on marathons or mass-participation events in the future, but one thing is certain: Every race director will try to learn from this tragedy and ensure it is not repeated.”

Norman North High School girls’ cross country coach Jonathan Koscinski crossed the finish line an hour and a half before the explosion and only learned of the blast upon returning to his hotel room.

“We were in our room watching the marathon highlights on TV and they started talking about a bomb,” Koscinski said.

In spite of the terrible tragedy, Koscinski came away with a sense of immense gratitude.

“I’m very relieved I wasn’t there personally and for my family, but I’m also thanking God that this didn’t happen earlier — thousands more people could have died, since many spectators gather to watch the front-runners finish the race,” Koscinski said.

Cohen agreed.

“In my experience running marathons, there is no more spectator-packed course than the Boston Marathon. The most surprising thing to me is that more people weren’t injured or killed — it’s 26 miles of densely packed people and, as horrific as this was today, we can be thankful,” Cohen said.

Jordan Kinley, former University of Oklahoma runner and the men’s 2009 winner of Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, also is OK, Butler said.

“I moved up here (Boston area) 18 months ago or so and I did work the expo and was in the area,” KInley said. “I started this afternoon, cheering for friends.”

Kinley, who has the second fastest finish time for men in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, won the OKC race in 2009 with a time of 2:27:19. Kinley knows many of the Oklahoma runners who had traveled to Boston to compete this year.

“I was watching the race from a half mile away and fortunately had left the area to head back to work maybe an hour before the first bomb went off,” he said.

He learned about the explosion when he started getting texts from runners, many of whom are from Oklahoma.

“Everybody I know is fine,” he said, adding that his information has come secondhand through other runners.

The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, founded to honor the Oklahoma City Murrah Building bombing victims is less than two weeks away.

Marathon officials announced Monday that the race is still scheduled for April 28.

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