Boston Marathon runners from Park City witness the horror
Pete Strople, a 43-year-old Silver Summit resident, ran the Boston Marathon on Monday, finishing the race in three hours, 46 minutes.
It was between 15 and 20 minutes afterward when the first explosion rocked Boston. When it happened, Strople was slowly moving through the finish area collecting bags of belongings he had left before the race.
The first explosion was "just crazy loud," like a cannon blast, he said. Strople was about 200 yards from the site of the explosion. He could feel the first blast through his chest.
"I was just thinking that wasn’t right. That shouldn’t have happened," he said.
He heard the first sirens a few minutes later.
"I would have expected panic, but there was not," he said.
Strople, who has lived in the Park City area for 16 years, wondered initially whether the blast was in celebration of the marathon, but it seemed out of place. He met his parents at a restaurant-bar close to Boylston Street as he heard more fire trucks and ambulances rush to the scene.
"My thoughts are with the families of the injured and killed . . . That could have been my family in the stands," Strople said.
He said he sees the Boston Marathon as the "Super Bowl of races," but the explosions on Monday "turned it into a dark day."
"This is supposed to be a celebration. For me, it took me two races to get into the Boston Marathon," he said.
It was not clear how many people from Park City and surrounding Summit County, or who have vacation homes in the area, were running in the Boston Marathon on Monday. Some people from Park City included on the race’s entry list had already left the vicinity of the course by the time of the explosions and did not witness what happened.
One of the people with ties to Park City, Sam Winebaum, had finished the Boston Marathon on Monday in three hours, 59 minutes and had worked his way along Boylston Street to collect a bag full of his personal belongings away from the finish line.
The part-time Park City resident retrieved the bag and was looking for his wife when he saw the blasts. He immediately understood what had happened.
"Huge boom and a dust cloud. I said ‘bomb,’" said Winebaum, a 56-year-old New Hampshire resident who owns a place in the Racquet Club Condominiums.
Winebaum, who had run the Boston Marathon six or so times before the Monday race, said Monday was a "spectacular" day for the marathon. His wife dropped him off at a state park on Monday morning and he was taken by bus to a village set up for the runners. He said he noticed less security in the village than in past years.
He started running at 10:20 a.m., part of the second of three waves of runners to start. It was a wonderful scene, he said, describing the runners’ uniforms as a "stream of beautiful colors." When he finished, race officials asked him and the others to walk for another 300 to 400 yards, past medical officials who were monitoring the runners. He was within one third of a mile from the first blast, he said. A white and gray dust cloud rose from the spot of the explosion, he said. The other bomb then exploded.
He contacted his wife and they met up and went to pick up their car. They drove from the scene to their home in New Hampshire. A constant stream of police cars and ambulances was headed into Boston as they left, he said.
"This is an event to bring people together, to bring joy," he said about the marathon, adding, "I have a horrible feeling about it, horrible. People died, they were maimed."
Winebaum said the person or people who planted the bombs will not deter the nation, the race in the future, or Boston. He called the perpetrators "lowlife, despicable." He said he wants an event planned to show solidarity with the victims.
"I will not let them feel they’ve destroyed this event or made their point . . . We’ll go show them otherwise, in public," he said.
Another Boston Marathon runner from the Park City area, 47-year-old Willow Creek resident Tim Chesley, finished the race about 17 minutes before the first explosion. He was with his wife a half a mile away from the site of the blast, he said.
"It was so chaotic," he said.
Chesley said his wife was standing at almost the precise location of the second explosion 10 minutes beforehand. He said he noticed lots of security before the explosions and said the emergency response was coordinated well.
"I just hope people rally behind them and still go to Boston," Chesley said, adding that he is proud of the city.
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The Park City Police Department last week received at least two reports of collisions between drivers and wildlife and a likely report involving a similar incident.