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Bombing puts dim light on ‘great journey’

April 16, 2013

People hug after multiple explosions rock the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday.

An array of feelings went through the mind of local competitive distance runner Amy Kentner when she learned Monday that bombs blew up within seconds of each other near the finish line of the Boston Marathon — fear and panic were among the strongest she felt.

Kentner, the organizer for the annual Run to the Moon 5-kilometer run held annually in Wapakoneta, had two friends, 24-year-old Sara Anderson and 34-year-old Amy Morrisey, who were participating in the race.

Kentner was able to fairly quickly contact Anderson, who had completed the run and was back in her hotel. Morrisey, however, was still in the changing tents near the finish line— close enough to hear both explosions.

“Sara had finished the race and was back in her hotel room showering,” Kentner said. “She said her phone started ringing constantly and she knew something must have happened.

Kentner said Morrisey was immediately told to clear the areas and get back too her hotel after the blast.

The two bombs that blew up just moments apart at the storied race left the streets spattered in blood and glass, according to witness reports at the scene. The attack has resulted in three deaths and at least 140 injured.

Officials at the scene reported at least 25 to 30 people were amputated in the blast, missing legs or ankles.

Celina resident Bill Roy, who also took to the streets of Boston to compete in the marathon,  crossed the finish line, found his family went through the post-race photo shoot and was retrieving his personal items when a few minutes later he heard a sound that shook the nation.

“We didn’t know what it was so we just stood there,” Roy said. “I thought maybe it was fireworks for the celebration of Patriots Day or because the Red Sox won. Everyone just stood around and no one really knew what to do. Then we kind of realized something wasn’t right and it was a weird feeling.”

Shortly after the blast, ambulances, police and other first responders arrived on the scene. Race volunteers then told Roy and his family that there was an explosion and that they should leave the area.

“We knew something wasn’t right,” Roy said. “We got up and tried to figure out what to do. We tried to use our cell phones for the GPS but all the cell phones were turned off so we couldn’t use it.”

Roy said he saw volunteers with wheelchairs —  normally reserved for those who need help after the race — rushing toward the finish line. These chairs could be seen throughout the day bringing victims to ambulances.

“They were taking the fencing and finish line down and the race wasn’t supposed to be over — it goes on for hours,” Roy said. “That’s when a volunteer told us there was an explosion and everyone was supposed to leave the area. We went down the road further and there was a cop there and he also was telling people to leave.”

Roy finished the race 15 minutes before the explosion hit the finish line. The fact that he was so close to the explosion is not lost on him.

“It’s huge,” Roy said. “We’ve talked about that about 100 times now. It was just very eerie. No one knew what was going on and there were a lot of people trying to find their family members.”

Roy, his wife, Jill, and daughter, Jessica Ahrns, were going to spend the entire week in Boston. The family had tickets to a Celtics game, which was canceled.

“They ruined it for everyone,” Roy said. “This was my first Boston and I ran one marathon to qualify for it. All the people here, you want to take pictures, show off your medal and it was all taken away. It’s just terrible.

“We wanted to celebrate and they told everyone to go back to your hotels and not to go out in groups,” he said. “All the runners, it’s their goal and what will happen next year, it’s not something you want to go to.”

Roy ran the race and finished 1,265th in the men’s 45-49 class with a time of 3:33:18.

Anderson finished the race in 3:20:48, good enough for 735th place in the 18-39 female class. Morrisey finished the course in 3:37:34, good enough for 2,168th place.

Kentner said the incident could result in additional focus on security at running events in the future, something that will be difficult to accomplish.

“You can’t just close off a 26-mile race,” said Kentner, who participated in the Boston Marathon in 2007. “There is always some kind of risk you take when running a marathon. There is no way to control all of the environmental factors. You can’t prepare for it. This will be another risk.”

Kentner said the incident still puts a damper on something that is a pinnacle in the career of many runners.

“It is an amazing event and it is a great journey,” Kentner said. “It is a lot of hard work just to get there. This is such a tragedy.”

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