Friends and family of local runners participating in the Boston Marathon were beset with shock and worry late Monday afternoon as they frantically checked on everyone's well-being.
Some of the local runners had crossed the finish line just minutes before two explosions killed at least two people and injured dozens more shortly after 4 p.m.
All the runners from Owen Sound were accounted for and were OK Monday evening. Runners from Meaford were also accounted for, as was wheelchair athlete Josh Cassidy of Burgoyne.
But as relief set in for friends and family back home, so did shock.
“You have these thoughts (that something could happen), but when it really happens, you think, this is ridiculous,” said Bonnie Banks, whose husband Kevin Knight of Meaford was running with three others from the Coyote Running Club. “I'm always hearing this about war somewhere else. And this isn't somewhere else, it's 10 minutes from where my husband is. You don't know what can happen.”
Knight and several others from Meaford and Owen Sound were at the finish line 10 minutes before the explosions, but they had moved on before tragedy struck, said Banks.
Banks said the Meaford bunch had hunkered down in a nearby bar, and didn't know how they were getting back to their hotel several miles away, because city transit had been shut down. Roads were blocked off and all cellphones were disabled within an hour of the explosions.
“He seemed fine, but I would imagine at that time things hadn't really sunk in,” Banks said of her husband.
Grace Scott's father John Scott took part in the marathon. She spoke to her mother, who'd accompanied him, nearly two hours after the explosion. Her parents were shaken and in shock “but Ok,” Grace Scott said. She said her father was to have taken part in the New York City marathon last fall, but it was cancelled at the last minute because of Hurricane Sandy.
Tracy Greig's husband Scott of Owen Sound took part in the race, as did her dad, Doug Barber. She was to race as well but broke her foot in training. She was holed up in a Buffalo hotel room trying to keep tabs on everyone and updating the runners' status on the Runner's Den Facebook page.
She said her husband and parents were to fly back to Buffalo Monday night but didn't know if they'd be able to because of airport delays. She said via e-mail that she was relieved everyone from the Owen Sound and Meaford area were OK.
Banks said Monday's marathon, Kevin Knight's 10th, was to have been his last. “But I would think Kevin would say this isn't going to stop me.”
Scott Vining, an Owen Sound lawyer who ran several Boston Marathons, knows many of the local runners who took part, and said he was worried when he heard the news.
“It's awful. It's a target. It gets a lot of worldwide notoriety. I guess it's probably the most famous running event (in the world),” he said.
Vining said the finish line, where the explosions happened, is typically very chaotic and filled with racers and spectators.
“It's very busy, packed with spectators,” he said. “Both sides of the road are just lined. There's about a 400-metre finishing stretch, and it's filled with people. It's very urban, it's the downtown financial centre.”
Runners gathered for their regular run at The Runners Den in Owen Sound late Monday were talking about the explosions.
One of them was Martin Williams of Kemble, who competed in the Boston Marathon in 2009. He said he was checking online to see how local runners were doing when he heard the news of the explosion. “I just hope everyone’s OK,” he said. It seems there are “too many crazy people out there.” Local runners competing in the marathon included: Doug Barber, 66, of Owen Sound; Julia Christian, 46, Kincardine; Curtis Coyne, 47, Meaford; Hannah Fraser, 31, Owen Sound; Jill Gamble, 37, Owen Sound; Scott Greig, 39, Owen Sound; Tracy Greig, 41, Owen Sound; Jennifer Kehoe, 34, Owen Sound; Kevin Knight, 59, Meaford; Lisa Lawson, 46, Owen Sound; Nicholas Meloche, 52, Owen Sound; Sara Newton, 40, Owen Sound; Jim Scott, 50, Owen Sound; and Rob Vanderwerf, 30, Owen Sound, Sean Delanghe of Clarksburg, Christian Hambrock of Hanover, Josh Cassidy of Burgoyne (in the men's wheelchair division). John Summers of Kitchener — an OSCVI graduate — was also in the marathon and was OK.
Canadians in Boston are urged to call the Consulate General at 1-800-387-3124 or 617-247-5100. At home, Canadians can search raceday.baa.org for the whereabouts of their loved ones during the blast.
Video from bombings courtesy of Boston Globe.