Bellingham-area runners in the Boston Marathon appear safe after explosions killed at least three and injured more than 100 on Monday, April 15, near the storied race's finish line.
The latest count, based on interviews with local runners and family members, and posts on social media, showed 20 of the 21 runners from Whatcom County registered for the marathon were OK. There was no indication the only other one -- Jeff Sanders -- -was among the injured.
Top local finisher Kristen Carter, 26, was preparing to celebrate with Amber Morrison, 32, in Morrison's hotel room when the bombs exploded. The Bellingham runners had crossed the finish line more than an hour earlier.
Morrison's room in the Hotel Commonwealth overlooked the race about a mile before the finish line. Neither heard the explosions because the race noise was so loud.
"It was pretty crazy outside with the crowd yelling," Carter said. "It definitely took people a while to figure out what had happened."
Police officers jumped on their motorcycles and rushed to the finish line. A little later, bomb-sniffing dogs appeared. Police closed the entrance to the subway. No one could leave the hotel for about a half hour, Carter said.
They saw runners start to head in the opposite direction, after the blast site was blocked.
"My heart goes out to the victims. It also goes out to the runners who weren't able to finish," said Carter, whose time of 2 hours, 47 minutes, 38 seconds was 34th among women. Morrison, who started about 30 minutes earlier, ran a personal best 2:49:58.
The runners stranded on the street in front of the Commonwealth were probably dehydrated and exhausted, Carter said. They didn't have their phones, and they had no way to contact friends or family.
"We've seen a decent amount of people just sit down on the curb and start crying," she said.
Lindsay Mann-King of Bellingham had just completed her first Boston Marathon and was about a block away from the finish line when she heard "an enormously loud explosion."
"It sounded like it was right on top of us," said Mann-King, 29. "Everyone got very silent."
Then came the second explosion, about 15 second later according to video of the scene. "People started to freak out and check their phones," she said.
Mann-King wasn't hurt - "just a little freaked out, but that's it."
More than three hours after the blasts, she was hunkered down in Cantina Italiana in Boston's North End - about three miles away in the Italian section of the city - with fellow marathoner Bill Pech, a 63-year-old Bellingham resident who was running in his fourth Boston marathon.
Pech had crossed the finish line and said he was about 200 to 300 yards away, when he heard the two explosions.
"People were stunned," Pech said. "They thought, 'Is this some sort of cannon to celebrate?' There was some confusion about what actually happened."
In the following moments, fear gripped the crowd.
"We were in the midst of a lot of panic and chaos," said Pech, who was uninjured. "These are all out-of-town people who don't know Boston, who don't know where to go."
After finishing the race, Cornwall Park Church Pastor Bob Marvel was sitting in a Starbucks about three blocks from the finish line, waiting for wife Dorene to finish, when he felt the two blasts.
Marvel said it was hard not to fear the worst. He could tell that the blasts had happened near the finish line, and he knew his wife was likely to be nearby. But law officers would not let him or anyone else go toward the blast area.
"It was pretty traumatic there for a while," he said. "After the explosion people were running in every direction."
Dorene, who was a half-mile from the finish when the bombs went off, had no cell phone but managed to borrow one. While voice service wasn't working, the Marvels reestablished contact via text message.
It was perhaps an hour before they were able to get back together. At least it seemed that long to Marvel.
"I just wanted to hold her," he said. "I wanted to hug her."
An email late Monday said runner Arlane Olsen of Bellingham is OK.
Arlane Olsen is a dear friend of my family's and she is alive and well, albeit shook up, wrote Kamarie Chapman, who did not list her hometown.
Kathy Herndon, a partner at the Bellingham accounting firm VSH, texted her son to say she and co-runners Melissa McCreery and Arlane Olson were uninjured, said Holly Graham, an employee at VSH. Graham said she was told Herndon had finished the race about 10 minutes before the explosions.
Cara Buckingham, a Bellingham resident who ran in the Boston Marathon in 2010, said she was relieved to hear from her friends that they were not injured but was shocked at what had happened.
"People aspire to run the Boston Marathon. It's such a great accomplishment," Buckingham said. "I hope they (the runners) can hold onto the joy and not let this mar their memories of the accomplishment."
Sam Alexander, co-owner of Klicks Running and Walking, was in touch through social media with most of the participants. He also counted "15 or 16" that were safe.
"For runners, this is fun stuff ... an escape from real life, and then the most stark example of real life happens on that spot," Alexander said.
Here is a look at the Whatcom County finishers in the 117th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2013:
|Keely Barten||28||F||Bellingham||Not yet available||Not yet available|
|Kristen Good||31||F||Bellingham||Not yet available||Not yet available|
|Kathy Herndon||51||F||Bellingham||Not yet available||Not yet available|
|Dorene Marvel||52||F||Ferndale||Not yet available||Not yet available|