Area runners uninjured in Boston

MARQUETTE – The two explosions that took place near the finish line of Monday’s Boston Marathon came well after the completion of the race by elite runner Tracy Lokken of Marquette.

But the timing of the blasts was much closer to when three other more average runners from Marquette were finishing. None of these participants nor their families or friends who traveled with them were apparently injured.

“It was louder than a sonic boom,” said Bill Sved, 64, of Marquette, who is treasurer of the Upper Peninsula Road Runners Club and will enter his fourth year coaching high school cross country at North Star Academy in Marquette this fall.

“Somebody later said they thought it was an electric transformer, and that was kind of what it sounded like, but more muffled, probably because the sound was blocked by the buildings.”

He spoke by cell phone while driving back to Marquette this morning with his girlfriend, Ruth Holthuis of Paradise. They expected to reach the Upper Peninsula tonight.

Participating in his eighth Boston Marathon, Sved finished the race at about 2:13 p.m. and the explosions occurred 37 minutes later at 2:50 p.m. He started with Wave 2 that left the start line beginning at 10:20 a.m. and was timed in 3 hours, 48 minutes and 21 seconds.

While Lokken, 47, finished 31st overall and completed his run more than two hours before the blasts, the two other area residents known to have participated in the race were even closer than Sved to the blasts, timewise.

Richard Anderson, 59, completed the course in 3:55:48, and Sved estimated Anderson was about nine minutes behind him, putting him at the finish line just 28 minutes before the explosions.

Sved and Anderson were in transit between the finish line and a family reunion area when the explosions occurred.

Barb Trudeau, 54, who began with Wave 3 at 10:40 a.m., was still on the course at the time of the blasts and was stopped just seven-tenths of a mile before the finish line at the 25.5-mile mark, Sved said.

She was left on the course for about an hour – and without a cell phone – before she was able to leave the area.

“She said a guy gave her a jacket, because she was still in her running clothes and there was a sea breeze that made things chilly, and another guy walked her back to her hotel,” Sved said.

Sved reported that this was the first Boston race for both Anderson and Trudeau.

In talking to those competitors, Sved said he was told that they and their loved ones were all uninjured.

He wasn’t sure if each runner has reunited with every one of their friends and family. Lokken said Monday afternoon he hadn’t heard from his sister, Terry Markley of North Carolina, after they split up after seeing each other once his race was over.

“I don’t think she went back to the finish line, but I can’t get ahold of her,” Lokken said by telephone Monday afternoon.

“I was in my motel room about a half-mile from the finish when a friend texted me about what was going on. I turned on the television to CNN and saw there was smoke everywhere (at the race site), with ambulances and emergency crews, too.”

Lokken said he had heard sirens from his room.

“I thought it might have been an ambulance for a runner who had suffered a heart attack,” he said. “I didn’t think a bomb had gone off.”

Lokken said he planned to return to Marquette this afternoon.

At the time of the blasts, Sved was in a several-blocks-long area between the finish line and the buses that would take him and fellow runners to the family reunion area.

“While we were walking, I heard the explosion, but I couldn’t tell what direction it came from,” Sved said. “I only remember hearing one (explosion).

“It sounded kind of muffled, and we didn’t have any idea it was near the race. People were on their cell phones and they were talking about all kinds of different things it could’ve been.

“Then they shut the cell phones (reception) off in case someone would use that as a trigger for a bomb.

“I guess you could say it was a frantic response. I didn’t hear anyone who panicked. There seemed like there were a lot of nurses and emergency personnel rushing to respond to help the injured.”

He also said it was just minutes later that he and fellow runners found out the blasts were bombs.

“That’s when we heard there were people killed and injured,” Sved said.

Holthuis, watching her second Boston Marathon, had taken up a spectator position about 1 1/2 blocks from where the second bomb went off. She had a stepladder with her so she could see over the people who were five-deep lining the course.

By the time the explosions occurred, she had left for the family reunion area. As a nurse practitioner who works at Straits Area Hospital in St. Ignace, her first instinct was to join the emergency personnel who were rushing to the scene.

“But we kept getting told to go, go away from the scene,” she said. “And it was unreal the amount of emergency staff who were there.”

Steve Brownlee and Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500.