Upper Valley Reacts to Marathon Explosions: ‘Too Close' to Home  

An unidentified Boston Marathon runner, center, is reunited with loved ones near Copley Square following an explosion in Boston yesterday. (Associated Press - Winslow Townson)

An unidentified Boston Marathon runner, center, is reunited with loved ones near Copley Square following an explosion in Boston yesterday. (Associated Press - Winslow Townson)

A world that has grown increasingly dangerous and frightening came close to home yesterday, as hundreds of Upper Valley residents worried about friends and loved ones running or attending the Boston Marathon, including some who wound up near two deadly explosions.

Caleb Masland, a 1999 Thetford Academy graduate who now lives in North Carolina, finished the race yesterday in 2:37:23 as part of group of runners who called themselves Team Wicked Bonk Proof.

During the course of the day, his public Facebook and Twitter posts changed from excited and celebratory about “gutting out” such a fast time to somber and subdued.

“There have been explosions near the Boston Marathon finish line,” he tweeted about an hour later, adding that he was safe with others in his hotel room. He later posted: “All of #TeamWickedBonkproof that ran today is safe and accounted for. Thankful for that.”

Jim Burnett, a member of the Upper Valley Running Club, said via email that he was still within earshot of the finish line, having recently finished the race, when the two explosions occurred. He and his son, Jotham, were headed back to the Upper Valley yesterday evening, he said.

“I heard them and could see the smoke plumes. I was getting my clothes bag about 20 minutes after finishing my race,” Burnett said. “Joe watched me finish then was headed back to our car, parked behind the Copley Plaza Hotel, near the explosion site by the finish line. (Other runners) the Gonnermans, Mike and Betsy, were pulled off the course at the 25.5 mile mark. They are fine but couldn’t finish the race. As far as I know all UVRC runners and family are OK.”

Another set of runners — wife and husband Maren and Ryan Layton of Lebanon — also used Facebook to notify friends and family that they were OK, said friend Melanie Cooper. The Laytons were running for a charity to help find a cure for Retts Syndrome, which affects their kindergarten-aged daughter, Cooper said.

“Once everything kind of happened, we were watching (Maren’s) Facebook page, everyone was posting there,” Cooper said. Family members eventually got in contact with the Laytons and posted a message for others to see on Maren Layton’s Facebook wall; she later posted a follow-up.

West Lebanon resident Edward Warren said he was glad to learn that his longtime friend, Thetford resident Tom Ozahowski, was safe with his two sons after they finished the race together. Ozahowski called his sister after the explosions, who in turn fielded calls from friends and loved ones, Warren said.

Warren said the violence — targeting a New England institution that also celebrates Patriots Day and the start of the American Revolution — did harm on several levels.

“It means all public gatherings are susceptible to some crazy person,” Warren said. “I feel for the families that have lost loved ones. And this is just a sad day for our country, that it’s taking out an event that’s supposed to be joyous and turned it ugly.”

Those views were shared by Claremont resident Linda Stankevich. Her son, James Clogston, attended the race to support his wife, Jaime Clogston, who finished the race around 2:20 p.m. and was getting her belongings together when the explosions occurred.

“I am just so angry. It’s like we have no freedom to do what is normal for us. I’m just, I’m angry, shocked, thankful that everyone is OK, but it was too close, too close,” Stankevich said, her voice cracking.

She was able to reach her son and daughter-in-law by cell phone right after the explosions — and before usage was restricted in the city.

“I called their cell phone as soon as I heard,” Stankevich said, “and luckily James answered the phone and I could hear Jaime saying, ‘Oh, it was so loud, Mom, it was so loud.’ ”

Tom Read, a sales representative at Omer and Bob’s in Lebanon, said he had not heard from any runners, but that the news had shocked the store, which has strong ties to the local running community.

“We had the game on … and I came upstairs and looked up and said, ‘what the hell is going on,’ ” he said.

Dartmouth College spokesman Justin Anderson said a student and faculty member had both run the race. The faculty member finished about 40 minutes before the explosion, and the college had been in touch with the student, who was unharmed.

Dartmouth is reaching out to students from the Boston area individually “to make sure that their families are OK, and in the event that they need it we’ll provide counseling,” Anderson said. Counseling will be made available to the student body at-large through undergraduate student advisers, he added.

New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, who grew up in the Boston suburb of Lincoln, Mass., released a statement saying New Hampshire’s law enforcement officials and emergency responders stood “ready to assist our neighbors in Massachusetts in whatever way we can.

“While there is much we do not yet know, we are all united in grief and support for the people of Boston and the first responders working so hard to save lives,” she said in the statement.

New Hampshire Supreme Court Justice James Bassett finished the race and was not hurt by the explosions, according to WPTZ News.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin also released a statement following the explosions.

“Our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who lost their lives or were injured in today’s explosions in Boston,” he said. “It is heartbreaking that what started out as a festive sporting event for thousands, including many Vermonters, turned into a tragedy.”

More than 100 Vermonters were registered in the race, RunVermont, a statewide running organization, told the Burlington Free Press.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said in a statement that the explosions were “a tragedy beyond words.”

Maggie Cassidy can be reached at mcassidy@vnews.com or 603-727-3220.


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