by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Nine marathoners from the Star News area were competing at the Boston Marathon which was rocked by two deadly explosions on Monday. The Star News contacted two of them within an hour.
Reports as of 5 p.m. Minnesota time were that two are dead and more than 100 injured, according to the Boston Globe.
Two Elk River friends who were first-time Boston qualifiers, Amy Visci and Katie Eberley, were accompanied by their husbands to Boston. The Visci’s four children and the Eberleys’ two children are at home.
“It’s crazy, crazy. I can’t believe it,” said Visci, who was back at her hotel a half-mile away. “Boston is in a state of panic.”
Visci said she finished with the runners clock at 3:34, and the bombs went off near the finish line with the runners clock at 4:09. This was at 2:50 p.m. EST.
“I was in the family pickup area, about a block away. There was a very loud explosion, and then you heard another one, not ten seconds later. People were calm at first because there’s some construction going on, and we thought it might have been part of that, but we found out very quickly that it was a bomb.”
Fear and panic obviously set in.
“People didn’t know what to do. Boston has a lot of tall buildings, but you don’t know if you should go in one or stay out of them. And people were looking for family members.”
Visci and her husband Fred quickly decided to return to their hotel, a smaller one a half mile away, which she said felt safer than at the huge Hilton right at the finish line. She was texting to Eberley to try get her and her husband to come stay with them.
Adding to the “unsettling” situation were sirens and helicopters and reports of looking for more bombs.
“I would love to just get home and be with my kids,” said Visci. “When something like this happens you just want to be with your kids. We won’t be able to leave until tomorrow.”
Eberley and her husband are staying at the Hilton, the elite hotel for marathoners, at the finish line.
“Unfortunately there is no way for us to leave of town,” said Eberley. “We can’t leave the hotel because it’s completely in lockdown.”
Eberley said the clock was at 3:42 when she finished, less than a half-hour before the explosions. She said it had been a tough race for her and she needed time to collect herself for a few minutes in a very congested area.
She was about six blocks away, with her husband just then joining her, when they heard what sounded like a loud explosion, while walking toward the finish line. Then another blast was heard, and smoke started billowing, and people were running past them.
“Then we turned and started running in the opposite direction. We knew then something bad had happened. There were tons of police cars, and special ops vehicles.”
The Hilton is across the street from the huge Prudential Center, which she said was immediately evacuated.
The Boston Marathon is normally a glorious day for any runner, especially a first-timer, but Eberley said she has been “crying, off-and-on, all day.” She started to choke up as she spoke on the phone.
“My husband is traveling with me but my kids are at home, and I’m a nervous wreck. The city is in shambles. We want to leave, but we don’t want to add to the chaos. It’s a really scary situation. I just want to get home to my kids.”
Visci noted that “Boson is such a patriotic city” and they’ve held the Marathon for 117 years on Patriots Day.
“You could not get more people in one place than today. All 26 miles there’s spectators. It’s so congested.”
Eberley said she felt bad for the city of Boston, too.
“This is such a momentous occasion for Boston. The energy was just amazing, and then you have something like this happen.”
Visci, 38, is a physical trainer and has her own studio in Elk River. She also trains at the YMCA. Eberley, 34, is also a YMCA member and works out with Visci.
Others from the area in Boston
According to the Boston Marathon web site, the following local residents were also entered in this year’s race — Theresa Lensing and Tina Ostroot of Elk River; Joni Busch, Sam Tabaka and Tracy Tabaka of Rogers; and Lynette R. Catapano and Jeff Rapacz of Otsego. The Tabaka’s are wheelchair entrants.