Locals recount marathon

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Boston terror: Locals cross the finish line minutes before the explosions

By Tris DeRoma

All of the runners from Los Alamos that participated in the Boston Marathon seem to be okay. In fact, some of them, like John Erickson, only heard about the explosions on the radio. He was injured, so he couldn’t participate that day. However he did watch the event.


“I was at the halfway point at Wellesley and I had no idea what happened until I heard it on the radio,” he said in an email to the Los Alamos Monitor.

However, for some, like the Dreiers, the experience was a little more vivid.

This was both Matt and Whitney Dreier’s second time running the Boston Marathon, their first time as a couple. Everything went relatively smoothly, with Whitney finishing in 3 hours and 23 minutes and Matt finishing in three hours and 53 minutes. They proceeded through the finishing chute on Boylston Street to receive water, Gatorade, mylar blankets and any clothing they dropped off.

They were two blocks from the finish line and were just getting ready to leave when they heard the explosions.

“From our vantage point, it sounded just like one big explosion, like a giant thunder clap,” Matt Dreier said. “We were a little confused as to what it was, but we can see the looks on the faces of the police and everyone was looking a little panicked. Not too long after, all hell broke loose.”

But where they were, everything was relatively calm, he added. No one had quite yet figured out what happened yet. As they were heading back to their hotel near the finishing area, they asked the cab driver if he heard anything about an explosion and he told them he hadn’t.

“Pretty soon, we saw lots of fire trucks, police cars, ambulances pretty much anything with a siren on it go whizzing by toward the finish area.” he said.

Since Boyleston was now blocked off, they were then dropped off by the cab driver. They then met a runner who told them about the explosions and that the race had been canceled.

“When we returned to the hotel we immediately turned on the television. and began getting the reports,” Matt Dreier said.

Jennifer Reass, who went to Los Alamos High School from 1994 to 1997 and is now an attorney in California, was running her first Boston Marathon.

“It felt incredibly awesome. I was really proud. And I was relieved it was over. It was a really hard course,” Reass said in a phone interview. “There were tons of people who lined the course and there were a lot of high fives.”

For a brief while, she was able to enjoy her victory, crossing the finish line in 3 hours and 50 minutes. But then...
“I was in the holding area where runners go after they finish,” Reass said in a phone interview. “We heard one big loud noise. The first thing I thought was a bomb. No one knew what was going on. There are a lot of tall buildings around and nobody could see any smoke or anything. Everybody got really quiet. Everybody was really nervous and they were trying to stay calm. Then the second explosion happened,” she said.

Reass had crossed the finish line 19 minutes before the explosions.

When Reass finally got back to her hotel, she turned on the TV to see what was going on. She was crushed.

“Up to that point, it was a happy celebratory moment,” she said. “After this it just soured. To have injuries and death at a sporting event is so tragic.”

Matt Dreier was at the airport waiting to go home when he got in touch with the Los Alamos Monitor. He said that he and his wife are avid runners and he does at least one or two marathons a year, and will keep doing so, in spite of what happened.

“It definitely does change your perspective on things, to have something like this happen so nearby,” he said. “I’m in an airport right now, and I have been looking at people a little differently. You wonder who they are, where they’re from, what’s in their backpack. But I’m hoping that feeling will fade, and I’ll be able come back home and keep doing events like these.”

Whitney, who is also freelance writer and editor, submitted a piece about her experience to Outside Magazine that can be found here

“It’s kind of scary the impact this will have on future races,” she said in her piece, titled “From the Finish Line: Writer Whitney Dreier”. She commented on how marathon’s are really a celebration, where “people work for months or years to prepare,” and that “it’s so sad to think that what was the culmination of so much work for so many people turned into such a nightmare.”

Another local runner Joaquin Gutierrez also completed the marathon.

Erickson was up in Boston with Gutierrez.

“The guy I was with, Joaquin Gutierrez, was a fast finisher and was already back in his hotel room at the time,” Erickson said.

Chuck Farrar, another lab employee, had qualified to run. But he said in an email that he was injured and did not compete.

John Severance contributed to this report.