A year later, Boston Marathon was packed and passionate, area runners found

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

When Tina Ostroot ran her first Boston Marathon a year ago, she intended it to be her final 26-miler, having run marathons each decade since the late 1970’s.
However, the terrorist bombs that killed three and injured hundreds last year changed her mind.

“I went back because I felt like last year was taken away from us,” said the 52-year-old Lincoln Elementary teacher, who was among a dozen Star News area participants in the 118th annual Boston Marathon on Monday.

“I wanted to be part of the effort to show support for those that had been injured or killed last year.  As marathoners say, I wanted the 27th mile to be a celebration.”

Four Elk River runners — Theresa Sakry, Tina Ostroot, Brian Gilbertson and Jill Varty -- posed for a photo by Tina's husband, Tim, at Fenway Park, on Monday evening.
Four Elk River runners — Theresa Sakry, Tina Ostroot, Brian Gilbertson and Jill Varty — posed for a photo by Tina’s husband, Tim, at Fenway Park, on Monday evening.

Also returning to Boston from last year were Theresa Sakry, 43, and Amy Visci, 39, of Elk River. Sakry, an ERHS teacher with over 50 marathons, told the Star News last year that she, too, had intended to make that her final Boston but instead would return “just to honor it,” in the wake of the tragedies.

This year’s race had far more runners (36,000, instead of the usual 27,000), more fans (estimated at a million) and emotion than usual, noted Ostroot.

“I had the opportunity to watch the Tribute Run on Saturday and that was very emotional. The run was for all victims, their families, friends, and first responders. For me the most emotional part of the race was at the end, running past the locations of the bombings and in the finisher’s chute where I was when the bombs exploded.”

Brian Gilbertson ran his first Boston and 19th overall marathon, having qualified last year with a 3:03 in Sacramento. The 41-year-old Elk River track coach was the first Star News area runner to finish, in 3:16:01.

“I was originally going to go last year but it didn’t work out,” said Gilbertson, who drove to Boston with his wife and children. “Being a track coach, it’s hard. This year, with Easter break falling the same time, that made it easier.”

Last year’s tragedy, he said, “Definitely inspired me to make sure I went to Boston this year.”

The Boston experience is overwhelming, he said, especially with this year’s massive turnout.

“It’s wall-to-wall fans, the whole way. There’s never a break like there is in other marathons. You are never running by yourself, or in the back of a pack or leading a pack. It’s one big pack the whole way.”

The Boston fans, he said, seemed “very grateful that so many runners came back.”

The intensified security was evident everywhere, he said, with police “about every 10 feet” in most congested areas, bomb-sniffing dogs, helicopters overhead, security cameras on all the buses, runners scanned multiple times, long waits at each stage leading up to the race.

Gilbertson was hoping to break three hours, and was on pace through 20 miles, then started to get side aches, and cramp up when taking water. He figured the temps in the 60’s, while normal for Boston, were perhaps harder on Minnesotans training in 20-30 degrees.

Ostroot, whose 3:57 was eight minutes slower than last year, agreed: “I thought the heat and dehydration made the last four miles very difficult for me this year.” But she added: “I was happy with my time. I am always happy to finish a marathon.”

Another Elk coach, Jill Varty, 51, who’s a volunteer in cross country, led the area women at Boston, finishing in 3:26:33, placing 46th in her division.
Star News Area Boston Marathoners

Brian Gilbertson, 41, Elk River, 3:16:01
Jill Varty, 51, Elk River, 3:26:33
Jeff Rapacz, 43, Otsego, 3:29:07
John Schmidt, 39, Rogers, 3:29:29
Theresa Sakry, 43, Elk River, 3:39:03
Joni Busch, 47, Rogers, 3:46:43
Rhoda Klotz, 47, Elk River, 3:47:57
Amy Visci, 39, Elk River, 3:54:19
Sarah Gildsrud, 27, Zimmerman, 3:55:58
Lois O’Brien, 39, Rogers, 3:56:36
Tina Ostroot, 52, Elk River, 3:57:11
Michael Conrad, 55, Elk River, 4:14:18