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Locals safe after Boston bombings


Womans sister finishes marathon before attacks

Monday’s dual explosions at the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon represented a cruel flashback for Hillsboro resident Jenny Langmann, who was there to watch her sister compete in the legendary footrace.by: COURTESY PHOTO: JENNY LANGMANN - Jenny Langmann of Hillsboro (left) jumped onto the Boston Marathon course to run a short distance with her sister, Toby Nishikawa, who finished the race before Monday's explosions occurred.

“What if we had lost Toby? We almost lost her 11 months ago,” Langmann said Wednesday morning as she waited in a San Diego airport for a flight back to Oregon.

As it turned out, 40-year-old Toby Nishikawa of Utah — who ran in Boston 11 months after a horrific bicycle accident last May in which she broke nine bones — was one of the lucky ones. She completed the 26.2-mile course 16 minutes before the first bomb went off in Copley Square, creating chaos at the packed finish line on Boylston Street.

“She was in the hospital for three months and had to learn to walk again,” said Langmann, a flight instructor for the Hillsboro Airport. “After the explosions, the sense of urgency I felt at first wasn’t the same as others around me.”

But when she reconnected with Nishikawa after the race — less than an hour after hopping onto the course near Heartbreak Hill to run a symbolic quarter-mile with her — the horror hit Langmann hard.

“That’s when the gravity of the situation sank in,” she said. “Cop cars were whizzing past us. A lady in a hard hat said, ‘You guys need to go the other way — right now.’”

Around 3 p.m. East Coast time, with thousands of runners still on the course, emergency responders closed the area near the finish chute. Of the 23,326 runners who started the marathon, 17,584 completed the marathon before officials brought the world-famous marathon to an abrupt halt.

For Langmann’s roommate, Hillsboro resident and Aloha High School counselor Lauren Randolph, it was a tense afternoon filled with concern for her friend.

“My husband had texted me and asked if I’d heard about the explosions,” Randolph said Tuesday. “After that it was all we thought about at school.”

As Randolph later discovered, Toby Nishikawa had already finished the marathon and she and Langmann had left the area. Many were not so fortunate.

At least three people were killed and more than 150 injured in an intentional act by someone using homemade bombs containing ball bearings and nails. An investigation into the incident by the FBI and other agencies is ongoing.

Langmann characterized her time in Boston as a mixed bag of experiences and feelings.

“Yes, Toby finished, and I’m glad she’s OK, but it was bittersweet,” she said. “It’s hard to celebrate when there’s tragedy there.”

A double-whammy

Aloha resident Lisa Brennan, a college specialist in the counseling department at Aloha High, came within 58 seconds of posting a qualifying time for Monday’s Boston Marathon at the St. George Marathon in Utah last year.

If she had run a 4:10 and gone to Boston, she might have wound up directly in the path of the bombs.

“I pulled a ligament in my back during the Utah marathon,” Brennan explained on Tuesday, “so I wouldn’t have been able to run Boston this year anyway.”

On Monday, one of her daughters stated what was in the back of Brennan’s mind.

“She called and said, ‘Mom, you probably would have finished right around the time the explosions went off.’”

Brennan — whose 21-year-old son, John, died of bone cancer in 2002 — has an acute sense of the sorrow family members of Boston’s dead and injured are feeling this week.

“This was just a double-whammy, the way people lost limbs due to the explosions,” Brennan said. “Some of the injuries resulted in amputations, which was so hard because I know what John went through.

Still, Brennan said she would not succumb to intimidation.

“Monday’s incident won’t be the deciding factor in whether I pursue a Boston qualifying time in a future race,” said Brennan, who plans to run the Hippie Chick Half Marathon in Hillsboro on May 11. “I don’t like the idea of living in fear, and I don’t want other people to control my joy.”

John Brennan, whose struggle is featured in a YouTube video entitled “The Never Say Die Kid,” continues to be his mother’s inspiration.

“My son was quite an athlete ... he was a top swimmer at Aloha and planned to pursue swimming in college,” said Brennan, who has been a regular runner for three years. “But he lost his leg to cancer, and ultimately he lost his life.

“I’m not going to let what happened in Boston stop me.”