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Local participants in Boston Marathon accounted for so far, react to what they saw, heard

April 16, 2013|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown resident Cameron Hanlin said he had finished the Boston Marathon in a personal best time Monday afternoon and was at the Cumberland Valley Athletic Club’s vans when he heard “these rumbles.”

Hanlin, 25, said at first members of the local running group wondered if the sound was motorcycles.

“We didn’t actually see the explosion,” Hanlin said of two bombs that went off near the finish line, about two blocks from where the local running club’s two vans were parked.

Authorities said three people were confirmed dead and more than 140 others were injured, the Associated Press reported.

Approximately 27,000 runners from around the world participated in the 26.2-mile race, the AP reported.

“Everyone’s just devastated by what happened,” said Cameron Hanlin, son of David Hanlin.

“Everyone’s a bit shaken, of course, and a bit confused,” he said.

Describing the scene around him shortly after the blasts, Hanlin said, “There was a lot of panic. Some people were calm. Some were panicking. A lot of confusion, in general.”

The Cumberland Valley Athletic Club group had split up by the time the bombs went off, according to Hanlin and Herald-Mail Assistant Sports Editor Andrew Mason.

Runner Judith Emmert, of Hagerstown, had finished the marathon about 10 minutes earlier and was in the area where friends and family meet runners, Hanlin said. Rich Zeger, assistant race director for the JFK 50 Mile Ultramarathon, also wasn’t with the group when the explosions occurred, Hanlin said.

Mason said he was with friends and family in a restaurant a few blocks away.

Mason didn’t run in the marathon due to injury, but was in Boston with his parents to watch his wife, Dani, run the marathon.

Dani Mason had finished the marathon at 1:17 p.m. Monday and the family was with friends enjoying a meal at Legal Sea Foods when suddenly everyone in the restaurant started looking at their phones and the restaurant’s TVs, Mason said.

“There were sirens everywhere,” he said.

When they found out what had happened, “people didn’t even want to finish their meal,” he said.

Mason called the bombings “disgusting.”

The explosions occurred at a time when a lot of runners would be expected to cross the finish line, Mason said.

“You really don’t know what to think. You can’t really comprehend that that really just happened,” Dani Mason said.

First there’s doubt and denial, she said.

“In our case, we knew, at least, the people we were there with are OK. Glad about that,” Dani Mason said.

Mason said she then thought of the people who “randomly (were) caught up in this horrible occurrence.”

“You think of how tired and exhausted and little bit joyful (runners are) to get to the end. And having that occur,” she said. Runners are “completely helpless” when they finish the marathon, she said.

Some local residents in the area of the marathon said they started receiving calls and texts from friends and family asking if they were OK.

David Hanlin said he had not heard about the bombs going off at the Boston Marathon on Monday afternoon when his son texted him to let him know he was OK.

“I said, ‘Really? Seriously? A bomb? I could never imagine,” David Hanlin said.

Tom Riford’s daughter, Mackenzie, also was OK, but he said he didn’t know that right away.

Riford said he learned about the bombs around 3 p.m., texted his daughter, and then called her mother, who had received a text that Mackenzie was OK.

As national news began reporting on the incident, Riford said Mackenzie had texted him a few minutes ago with just two words, “I’m OK.”

“As a concerned father, I was very relieved to hear from her,” said Riford, who is president and CEO of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Mackenzie Riford, 19, is in her first year at West Point and is a graduate of Mercersburg Academy, her father said. She spent a year at Shippensburg University, running for the university’s cross country team, he said.

According to Andrew Mason and Cameron Hanlin, other people in the Cumberland Valley Athletic Club group who attended the marathon and were all reported to be OK were: Emmert, Misti Walls, William G. Walls Jr., Kathleen Luzier, Tim Fisler, Elise Fisler, Susan Graham-Gray, Tim Schuler, Kay Harrison, Mike Spinnler, Maria Spinnler, Jimmy Spinnler, Rich Zeger, Sabrina Zeger, Jeff Myers, Dick Mason, Mary Mason and Dani Mason.

Club member Laurie Dymond, who had traveled separately from the group, confirmed in a text to The Herald-Mail that she also was OK.

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