Bob Rummel turned a challenge issued by his wife, Gloria, into a mission.
A 1966 graduate of Shade High School, Rummel got a late start in the high-intensity hobby of distance running thanks, in part, to some old-fashioned spousal urging. Rummel was 50 when he ran his first marathon in Atlanta.
Fifteen years and dozens of marathons later, Rummel fulfilled a longtime goal when he ran the Boston Marathon.
“I was working toward qualifying for Boston the last five years,” said Rummel, who lives in Latrobe.
“In 2012, through a lot of hard work and a wonderful training program through the Westmoreland Athletic Club, I qualified for the Boston Marathon running the Pittsburgh Marathon.”
Rummel, a regular at the Pittsburgh Marathon, finished that 26.2-mile test of endurance in 3:33. Two weeks later, Rummel ran the Cleveland Marathon and posted another qualifying time. He did the same later in 2012 at the Columbus Marathon.
On April 15, Rummel was one of 26,839 runners who started the Boston Marathon.
“It was the most enjoyable experience. The weather was perfect. It was beautiful,” Rummel said. “What made it so enjoyable was knowing all the hard work I put in paid off and I was running the marathon.”
The 65-year-old Rummel ran well. He finished in 3:36, good enough to qualify for next year’s marathon and approximately 30 minutes before two bombs exploded on Boyleston Street halted the race. Three spectators were killed and more than 200 were injured.
Rummel was being interviewed by WPTZ, a television station, less than a block from the explosions.
“They asked if they could interview me and, after I said yes, I was prepped by the reporter, probably to make sure I didn’t say anything inappropriate,” Rummel said. “As soon as they started the interview, the bomb went off. I was a quarter of a block from it. You could smell it. You could see it. I could feel the hair on my arms.”
Rummel, like many others, walked back toward the explosions.
“Fortunately, I was not as close as some people,” he said. “I saw a lot of runners the following day that were stopped in the final mile, mile-and-a-half, but the sense of loss everyone felt far superceded the disappointment of not finishing.”
Being in Boston further strengthened Rummel’s determination to continue running and training at Westmoreland Athletic Club in Greensburg.
He’ll return to Pittsburgh for Sunday’s marathon and wear a wristband available at the race for $1 that says, “Boston Strong.”
Then, he'll head to Cleveland and Columbus, too.
“I'm very optimistic,” Rummel said. “When I returned to Latrobe with what happened in Boston, I was asked if I would continue running and I said I most certainly would. I’ll never stop running. These acts won’t put us in fear of our everyday things.”