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April 18, 2013 8:24 am

Boston Marathon Runners from Israel React to Bombings

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The first explosion that rocked the Boston Marathon near the finish line on Monday. Photo: YouTube screenshot.

Although they come from a country that is long accustomed to terrorism, the 17 Israelis who signed up for the Boston Marathon found it hard, at first, to comprehend that Monday’s explosions that killed three and injured more than 170 people were indeed a terrorist attack.

Maria Valsenko, an Israeli graduate student at Columbia University in New York who ran the Boston Marathon, had her proud moment turn to shock several minutes after crossing the finish line.

“I was 300 meters (less than 1,000 feet) from there, and the joy from crossing the finish line was wiped out by a despicable attack,” she told Israel Hayom.

Nine of the 17 Israelis who registered to run finished the Boston Marathon.

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“I finished the marathon and on my way back to the hotel I heard the blast,” runner Tzvika Bronstein said. “At first I didn’t make the connection to terrorism, and I ignored it. I even sent a text message to my wife that I had finished, without even telling her about the explosion.”

Orit Trumper-Sela, the director of human resources for EMC in Israel, flew to participate in the race after winning a raffle at work. She was already at the final kilometer mark when everything came to a halt. “I didn’t understand what was happening,” she recalled. “I thought something had happened to one of the runners. It’s unbelievable that I came from ‘dangerous’ Israel to a marathon that ended in such a way. It’s incomprehensible.”

Yaron Tubin, on sabbatical in Boston with his wife, stopped running 200 meters from the finish line. “The explosion was really right in front of me,” he said. “It feels inconceivable that it could be a terrorist attack, but the Israeli head takes over. The Americans around me didn’t understand what it was and were wandering around aimlessly, but as an Israeli you understand.”

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