Local runners who participated in Monday's Boston Marathon were shaken, but relieved to be uninjured, by the bombs that exploded Monday near the finish line, and the director of the Quad-City Times Bix 7 said the tragedy will force road race organizers to re-examine their security measures.
John DeDoncker, 48, of Bettendorf, a veteran marathon runner, said running his first Boston Marathon was on his "bucket list" of once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
He had finished the race about 45 minutes before the explosions and was on his way to the airport to return home. He was unaware of what had happened until he began getting text messages asking if he was OK.
"I couldn't figure out why until I got to the airport," he said.
DeDoncker said security at the airport was heightened, but planes were still flying. He hoped to be able to return home late Monday night.
He said he was shaken by the news of what happened and saddened that a day that should be a celebration for people who had trained for and completed the marathon had turned violent.
"It's just tragic," he said.
Bix 7 race director Ed Froehlich said Monday that although he had wondered how long it would be until there was an attack at a major sporting event, he was still shocked by Monday's tragedy.
"It's very difficult to fathom anybody ever doing it," he said.
Froehlich said the bombings will force race organizers all over the world, including the Bix 7, to re-examine their security measures.
"We want to make sure it's safe," he said.
Patches Breed, 37, of Wilton also completed the marathon and was out of the area before the explosions.
"I was one of the lucky ones," she said via a Facebook message.
Cornbelt Running Club president Paul Schmidt said none of the local runners he knew were running Monday's marathon had been injured.
Dr. Darryl Johnson of Bettendorf and his daughter, Carly, had finished the race and were back in their hotel about four blocks from the finish line at the time the explosions occurred.
“We were sitting around hearing all these ambulances and we said ‘Wow, that’s a lot of ambulances for a day when you have such good weather,’’’ Johnson said. “Then all of a sudden we got a text from somebody asking how we were because of the explosions. We didn’t even hear the explosions … We were just fortunate that we ran fast enough that we were through and back in our hotel room when it all went off.’’
The subway beneath where the explosions took place (the Green line) was closed and at least two hotels in the area were evacuated
The Johnsons’ hotel is in the Back Bay area near downtown Boston.
“We also are a little concerned about whether or not they are going to evacuate our hotel, too," he said Monday afternoon. "We’re getting showered and getting our things together in case we need to leave.’’
This was Darryl Johnson’s seventh Boston Marathon, and his daughter's first.
Carly, a former Iowa State runner, finished in 2:58; Darryl ran 3:15.30
“It was just a beautiful day, a perfect Boston Marathon day,’’ Johnson said. “It was about the mid-40s at the start and mid-50s at the finish. We were feeling great, and then all of a sudden all this stuff has to happen.’’
The race clock was at about 4 hours, 9 minutes when the first explosion went off
“About 10 years ago, that’s about the time I would have been running,’’ Johnson said.
Johnson said he thought race officials reacted quickly, shutting down the parts of the course that were affected.
“Thank God somebody was looking out for us.’’