Dozens from Raleigh in Boston for marathon
Posted April 15, 2013
Boston — More than 100 runners from Raleigh and the surrounding area were among the more than 25,000 participants in Monday's Boston Marathon, and they rushed to connect with family and friends after a pair of blasts rocked the race's finish line.
Several runners landed at Raleigh-Durham International Airport Monday night, where they recalled the chaos and panic following the explosions.
"I just happened to be running right on Boylston going toward the finish line when the explosion went off," said Celia Mitchell, of Raleigh. "I don't really like to say what I saw, but here was, like, debris and things coming out of the building where the explosion was."
"I looked over and I saw the smoke coming on the side of the street and the people panicking and running everywhere," said Kaz Yahyaoour, also of Raleigh. "There were people shouting, 'Just take shelter. Just hide.' They didn't know what was going to happen because they were panicking."
Bubba Watts, a contractor from Raleigh, was in Boston with a group of friends watching the race. He said he was cheering for the runners in the very spot where the explosion happened just an hour before. By the time the chaos began, Watts was heading to the airport to return home.
"You don't even know where to begin," Watts said of learning of the explosions. "It's hard to process. It's just real hard to process. I don't know where to begin. You want to think it's not going to happen. You want to think people are going to be acting better."
Watts was with a group of about 20 friends, most of them spectators supporting three runners. All but one were accounted for until about 4:30 p.m. when they finally heard from the friend they could not locate. Local race organizers rethinking security
Former Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker, an avid runner, was in Boston to cheer on his son, David, who was running in the race. David Meeker and friends finished their race about an hour before the blast and had headed back to their hotel.
Charles Meeker said his son and others went back to the finish line area after they heard what happened.
"We've been downtown. Of course there have been lots of emergency vehicles with their sirens on, lots of people watching the news. It's a very unusual situation," he said.
The former mayor has run the marathon himself several times over the years.
Another local finisher is B.D. Sechler, of Apex, who is well-known in the Triangle running community for his work at Raleigh Running Outfitters. Sechler was near the finish line when the bombs went off.
"My first thought was 'Oh my gosh. Something has gone wrong,'" he said. "I knew something was not right, but it was about probably 30 to 45 seconds before people started running, and they were coming from all different directions."