Valley runners return home from Boston

April 16, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Local runners are returning home to the Valley from Boston. They say they're "grateful" to be with family and loved ones.

For some of those runners, it seemed like it took forever to get home. American Airlines delayed or cancelled flights locally and across the nation, because of a computer malfunction. When they did finally get home- they arrived to find quite the homecoming.

With balloons and matching shirts, the families of Phillip Gonzalez and Brad Castillo surprised the two runners, with a welcome crowd, full of support and love.

Former Fresno City Council member Castillo feels lucky, and grateful. "Knowing that there's going to be a lot of families that aren't going to get home to their loved ones, that's the hardest part of this whole ordeal."

Castillo has been trying to qualify for the Boston marathon for 17 years. He finally got there, and didn't get to cross the finish line. "I got stopped less than a half mile before I crossed the finish line that's when the explosion happened-so i was four minutes out from the finish line."

Minutes from the finish, and ushered into an unimaginable chaos, and catastrophe.

Castillo's brother-in-law and running partner Phillip Gonzalez had just crossed, just received his medal, when he heard the explosions. "A lot of families there wandering around, not knowing what to do because they couldn't find their kids. Couldn't find their moms and dads. I just stood there trying to do anything for them."

And then, the phones didn't work. Police were everywhere. No one knew what to do.

Stores were closed. Both of them, cold, and looking for help, walked in circles, trying to help whomever they could, trying to honor the code between runners.

"In the running community that's what you are, best friends, you become family after running mile upon mile next to each other talking about life in general."

Both of them now vow to return to Boston to do that run again. Until then, they'll be with family, appreciating them more then they ever thought possible.

Castillo and Gonzalez will both be participating in this weekend's walk and run -- in support of Boston.

It's this Sunday, April 21st, at 7:30 in the morning, at the Sierra Running Company in Fresno.

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