Local runners heard the finish-line blasts

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By: Grant Lucas, Dylan Darling and Sheila G. Miller
The Bulletin

Several Central Oregon runners experienced firsthand the blasts that shook the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday.

As of press time, The Bulletin — through social media and other contacts — had been able to account for 12 of the 17 Central Oregonians who were scheduled to race in the marathon.

Two bombs exploded just before 3 p.m. Eastern Time near the marathon finish line on Boylston Street in downtown Boston, killing at least three people and injuring more than 140. Law enforcement confirmed Monday evening that one of the dead was an 8-year-old boy.

According to media reports, more than 23,000 people started the race in Hopkinton, Mass., and about 17,600 had already completed the course when the bombs detonated. The explosions were seconds apart and took place about four hours after the start of the elite men’s race, at a time when thousands of runners were still on the course.

Jen Myers, 31, was a block away when she heard the blasts. The Redmond resident had crossed the finish line five minutes earlier and was in the family meeting tent, reuniting with her husband, Stefan.

When the first explosion went off, the Myerses thought it must be one of two things: construction or a bomb. Nobody around them was panicking, no smoke could be seen right away from where they stood, so they figured it was construction. Then came the second boom.

“Everyone was still doing their post-marathon shuffle to get out,” Jen Myers said from Andover, Mass., about 25 miles north of Boston. “It wasn’t until we were standing there and reuniting and police cars started blowing by us that we realized it was something a little bit bigger.”

The Myerses found a nearby restaurant with a television and there first saw the damage the explosions had caused.

“You can’t believe it. You’re in shock,” Myers said. “The faces that you had just seen moments before, that were helping you put on your space blanket and give you your medal and cheering you on, you’re just sitting there thinking about them … if everybody’s OK.”

Justin Grady, 39, of Bend, is the senior web developer for The Bulletin’s parent company, Western Communications Inc. Grady ran the Boston Marathon and crossed the finish line before the blasts.

After completing the race in just under three hours, he left the finish line area and walked, with a friend from Eugene, to an apartment he’d rented for the race, about 1.6 miles away. The walk took a half hour, and Grady had been back at the apartment about 10 minutes, checking Facebook, when he heard the pair of explosions.

He said he wasn’t sure at first what the noise was, but soon social network feeds filled with news of the explosions near the finish line.

“I am like, ‘Oh, crap,'” Grady said. “We were just there (less than) an hour before.”

Grady, an experienced ultra runner, said the explosions seem to have been timed to occur when the biggest group of runners would be finishing the 26.2-mile race.

Other runners were even closer than Grady to the explosions.

Judd Hurd said he’d been in touch with his daughter-in-law, Madras runner Jamie Hurd, 30. He said Jamie Hurd had already finished the race, but her brother and sister-in-law were still running.

“They were about 30 seconds away from the finish line, but they weren’t hurt,” Judd Hurd said. “They’re all OK.”

He said the runners and their family members were staying in a hotel away from downtown Boston, in Brookline, Mass.

“They are away from the city center,” he said.

Bend resident Rachel Modee, 26, had finished the race and was headed back to the finish line when she felt the impact of the blast, according to her father, Steven Modee.

“As she was going there, people were running around and screaming and crying, bloody,” he said. “She hid for a little bit inside a building, but she is OK.”

Tony Dorsch, 72, of Redmond, a Central Oregon Community College board member, had some tense moments Monday as he waited to hear from his daughter-in-law, Heather Aften. Aften lives in Anchorage, and ran her best time in the Portland Marathon to qualify for this year’s Boston Marathon.

“She came along and finished and got her official time, and 12 minutes after she finished she walked back toward her hotel, and she heard that explosion,” Dorsch said. “It strikes me she must have been very close.”

In the meantime, Dorsch’s son, Anthony, was with the couple’s two children, on the way up to the family’s hotel room.

“He was trying his best to shield the grandchildren from the news because it was too terrible,” Dorsch said. “But he wasn’t very successful because the lobby, every television in the lobby was blazing away and … he said the people in the hotel were just like in a pall, almost in shock, almost in lockdown.”

Dorsch said that in the aftermath of the explosions, the family had to show a room key in order to access the elevator.

“I can’t believe I’m sitting here in Redmond, Oregon, seeing my daughter-in-law that close to where she could actually hear that thing explode,” he said. “Thank the good Lord they’re all safe from harm.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0307, glucas@bendbulletin.com. — Reporter: 541-617-7812, ddarling@bendbulletin.com — Reporter: 541-617-7831, smiller@bendbulletin.com

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