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W.Va. runners undeterred by Boston attacks

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Despite the bombings that killed three and injured scores more Monday, West Virginia runners say they are undeterred from their plans to run next year's Boston Marathon.

"I'm not going to let the acts of a few scare me from celebrating Patriots Day," said W.K. Munsey, a member of the Tallman Track Club in Charleston.

Munsey, a four-time participant in the Boston Marathon, has qualified for the 2014 race and plans to be there.

He said local runners were shocked and angered by the attacks, but he wants to put bombings out of his mind when he runs the race.

"I'm not going to think about it," Munsey said.

According to the marathon's website, 46 runners from West Virginia were registered for the race Monday. None was injured in the incidents. About 10 of the West Virginia runners had ties to the Charleston area, Munsey said.

He doesn't know how many local runners are planning to run the marathon next year.

"We haven't really got that far yet," Munsey said. "I know about a couple people that are qualified and are still going, and a bunch of men and women are going to [the Cleveland Marathon in May] to try to qualify."

Runners from the area were planning ways to honor and help bombing victims.

A fundraiser run/walk benefiting the victims of the attacks is planned for 3 p.m. Sunday at the Hurricane Wave Pool. The event is free but donations are being accepted. For information on the event, visit www.tristateracer.com.

The Huntington Road Runners planned to have a 2.6-mile run and light candles Tuesday evening beginning at the Marshall University Memorial Fountain.

Jason Pyles, 31, of Charleston, ran the Boston Marathon in 2010 and plans to run it in 2014.

"My approach is that you still live your life happy and live in the moment," Pyles said. "You try not to think about these really bad things that we've seen that can happen."

Pyles, winner of the 2010 Charleston Distance Run's 15-mile race, runs marathons all over the country.

The Boston race is "hands down, the greatest running experience" a person can have, he said.

Spectators line the race route six to 10 people deep and cheer for the runners, he said. The marathon has a festival atmosphere and is a happy time for the city of Boston, Pyles said.

"That's what makes [the bombings] extra sad," Pyles said.

In light of the Boston events, organizers of the Charleston Distance Run say they will consider security in their monthly planning meetings for the Aug. 31 event.

Race director John Palmer said chances are slim that Charleston would be the target of terrorist attacks.

Last year 1,500 runners and walkers participated in the distance run. All the events end at Laidley Field, which is more of a "protected area" than the finish line in Boston, Palmer said.

"Because it finishes in the field and there are a number of the distance run officials and several police officers, I think it's more unlikely the finish line could be a place were terrorists or criminals would target," he said.

Officers from the Charleston Police Department control traffic on race day and between 15 and 20 medical personnel are on hand to treat runners for exhaustion and other issues, he said.

Palmer said he hopes the tragedy in Boston doesn't deter runners who want to participate in the Charleston Distance Run.

"Because this happened, security is going to have to be one thing we do consider to be sure we are minimizing the possibility of that ever occurring here in Charleston," he said.

"It's unlikely it would happen in Charleston, W.Va., as opposed to Boston. We want to do whatever we can to make sure our runners and spectators are as safe as possible."

Reach Lori Kersey at lori.kersey@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.


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