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UC professor recounts Boston Marathon experience

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Brad Deel was somewhere around a subway station in Boston and heading for his rental car when two bombs exploded at the Boston marathon finish line.

But Deel, who ran in the race and had expected to finish much later than he actually did, could just as easily have been at the finish line.

He could have been killed, hurt or been caught up in the mess that followed the blasts.

Deel, of Scott Depot, planned on taking it easy that day. He figured he would finish in about four hours, and that would have put him in the danger zone about the time the bombs went off.

Instead, he finished in three hours and 23 minutes.

"I took my time, but I just can't jog," he said.

Deel was back in Charleston today, teaching a political science class at the University of Charleston, where he has been an assistant professor since 2008.

He was glad to be back with his students, who knew all about his constant running -- he often uses running metaphors in class -- and that he was at the marathon.

When news of the bombings broke, he said his phone "lit up like a Christmas tree" with texts and calls from students, family and friends.

Deel wasn't unique among the thousands of runners at the marathon who made it away unscathed.

He has run through the day in his mind, mentally plotting how things could have gone differently. He could have happened to run more slowly and been near the explosions, or missed the last subway to his car where his phone was, leaving his wife, friends and students frantically trying to get in touch with him.

"I don't know what I would have done," he said.

Ricky Campbell of Nitro was in West Virginia Monday. But he had planned to run the Boston Marathon for a second time until he came down with a virus this spring and missed a string of crucial training days.

"I had to change my plans at the last minute," he said.

Campbell handed off his bib to a friend, who is fine.

Campbell is the secretary of the Huntington Road Runners. That group was planning a group run Tuesday evening in Huntington to honor the bombing victims.

Runners planned to meet at the Marshall University Memorial Fountain at 8 p.m. to light two candles -- blue and yellow, the marathon's signature colors -- before setting off on a 2.62-mile run, to reflect the marathon's 26.2 miles.

"We just moved the decimal point," Campbell said. "Someone joked today that it's a tenth of a marathon."

Campbell is running another marathon next week, in Indiana. And while he says the Boston bombings have left the running community shaken -- marathons across the country are taking another look at their security measures -- he's not hesitating to run another one. He said he might run in Boston again next year.

Deel is thinking the same and said that's been the general sentiment among his runner friends.

"Everything I have seen from runners is just that this will not stop us," he said. "We are endurance athletes, and we will endure. We're not going to stop running."

Contact writer Shay Maunz at or 304-348-4886.


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