The Boston Marathon, an international event that brings together thousands of runners from around the world, was supposed to be a joyous occasion for the dozens of northwest Ohioans who laced up and ran.
And while it appeared Monday afternoon that none of them were victims, at least physically, of the bombs’ devastation, that joy in a moment evaporated into a wave of other emotions.
First came the shock, then the confusion. Then, the worry about friends and family members who might have been in the area.
Next was relief when those loved ones were found. And finally, gratitude they themselves were unscathed.
Julie DiCesare of Fremont had finished the marathon and was about a block away when the first explosion happened. She could see smoke, and then heard the other explosion.
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There was confusion among the runners for about 10 minutes with little information given. Ms. DiCesare said she was separated from her husband, who was in a family staging area, and had to sneak back through the crowd to find him.
The two explosions occurred near the finish line about three hours after the winners finished.
Ms. DiCesare told The Blade by phone late Monday that she was still processing the realization that she had been at the spot of the explosion minutes earlier.
“I was never really in a panic,” she said. “My main concern was to just find my husband, because I didn’t want him to worry about me.”
In the direct aftermath of the blasts, cell-phone service in Boston became spotty, complicating efforts for those in the area trying to contact friends and family members who ran or were spectators.
Among those at the 26.2-mile race in Boston were more than a half-dozen from the Toledo Roadrunners Club. According to group members there and back home, all were believed to have been accounted for, either through phone calls, race times that put them past the finish line before the blast, emails, or social media updates.
Kevin O’Connor, president of the Toledo Roadrunners, was at the race to see his wife, Cheryl, compete. She had finished long before the explosions, and the pair were already back at their hotel, about three blocks away from the finish line. They never even heard the blasts; they first learned about what happened, he said, through social media.
Though everyone from Toledo and the area appeared to be OK, Mr. O’Connor said it was still jarring to know they’d been so close.
“She ran right by it, right by the finishing line,” he said of his wife. “It’s scary to think about.”
St. John's Jesuit graduate Michael Pool was running for charity, his mother, Andrea Pool, said. He was approaching the finish line when the bombs went off.
“He could see the finish line, he could hear the explosion, and basically then they re-routed the runners,” Ms. Pool said.
Another area man said his friend was near the finish line at the time of the explosion, and actually ran through the smoke to finish the race.
Roadrunners for a time had no contact with Lisa Stevens of Perrysburg, the group’s membership coordinator. She finished minutes before the explosion, and members were worried when they hadn’t heard from her.
Social media became a welcome avenue for connections during the confusion.
After several hours, Roadrunners’ race course coordinator Ed O’Reilly posted on the group’s Facebook page that Ms. Stevens, “finished just about 2 minutes before the finish line explosion and was not far away but unhurt.”
With less than two weeks before the Glass City Marathon in Toledo, race coordinators must decide whether to boost security for the April 28 event. There will be more than 6,000 runners and thousands more watching, director Clint McCormick said.
With it unclear Monday if the attacks were part of a larger threat or more coordinated acts of terror, Mr. McCormick said he’d have to wait several days when more information was available before security decisions are made.
“How that is going to change is based on how this plays out,” he said.
Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans.