Runners in the East Valley are a tight community. If any two enthusiasts don’t know each other, there’s a good chance they know someone who knows someone who they’ve crossed a finish line with.
So when two explosions occurred near the finish line at the Boston Marathon Monday, it hit home for plenty of folks in the local running community.
Dan Beaver and Mary Knott, are co-owners of Cadence Running Company in Gilbert. The husband and wife were in Boston competing, and had finished about 15 minutes before blasts.
“Dan and I are safe. We passed the finish line 15 min before the blasts. We are at the hotel. Thank you for all the well wishes,” Mary Knott wrote on the store’s Facebook page to let the hundreds of people who tried to contact them know that they were OK.
Beaver, who spoke to the Tribune shortly after his plane landed in Phoenix Tuesday, said he was sitting talking to other finishers about a block away from the line when the blasts — reported to be pressure-cooker bombs — went off.
“We didn’t even think a whole lot about it,” Beaver said. “There’s so many noises and people and music and bands playing.”
But as the couple made their way back to their hotel which was closer to the where the bombs went off, it became apparent something was wrong.
“Then, literally all at one time, every car you can imagine with a siren on it was screaming all over the streets … once we saw the bomb truck — a big black truck — then we knew something was not right,” Beaver said.
“It was pretty chaotic there for awhile it was like a scene from a movie,” he added.
Brett Schumacher, of Chandler, who was at the marathon for a business trip and staying at a hotel about 30 feet from the blast was at a post-race party in the hotel when the bombs went off just outside.
“I was just ordering another beer to celebrate and just talking with friends and other people that were there and just heard this god-awful bang,” he said speaking from a layover in Detroit Tuesday afternoon; he expected to reach the Valley by Tuesday night. “It was so loud, it was difficult to comprehend how loud it was.”
Schumacher also said the scene was chaos. He said because of knowledge of the hotel he was staying at — it is one of his favorites — he knew where to go to find the back exit. People were being shuffled through narrow alleys to get out of the scene and Schumacher said he ended up about 10 blocks away, locked out of his hotel and hungry.
Both Beaver and Schumacher described displaced spectators and runners, some of whom were stopped while still running the race, were wandering, cold with only their running gear on.
“No one knew where to go and people were just wandering the streets … and you saw some people with shrapnel wounds with some blood on the face and arms and things,” Schumacher said.
Schumacher said he is still in shock from the incident.
Beaver, who said he has a military background, said he has always wondered if such a tragedy could occur in an event like the Boston Marathon, and now he has his answer.
Beaver said the East Valley running community is a close group, albeit a big one.
At their store, located on the northeast corner of Gilbert and Pecos Roads, the couple has started a drive to donate a percentage of the store’s proceeds to the relief effort for the tragedy from now through Sunday.
Matt Tonkin, who is the store’s manager and a close friend of Beaver, said the tragedy has been on the minds of many of the customers he’s spoken to since the bombing.
Joe Micheli, a sales representative at Sole Sports in Tempe, another shop that specializes in running and is heavily involved with large-scale Valley distance events, said he spent much of Monday night coordinating messages between runners and their friends and family in the East Valley. Cell phone service had been spotty for hours near the marathon.
“It’s a very tight community … we all say ‘you’re running, you’re part of the community,” Micheli said.
With Pat’s Run coming up this weekend in Tempe, the runners said they will be weary of the security dangers there.
“You’re kind of stuck in this position of is this going to be something we have to worry about from now on,” Micheli said
Beaver, who was going to skip the Pat’s Run to rest up for training for an upcoming Ironman race, said he may now attend the event which he attended the past four years.
He said he wants to “show our support and to make it obvious you can’t just let off a few bombs at a race and everybody just shuts down forever.”
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