Reporting John Lauritsen
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Of the approximately 27,000 runners at Monday’s Boston Marathon, 539 of those registered to run are from Minnesota. One of those runners is Edina’s Ellen Hunter Gans. She has run 14 marathons, but Monday was her first time at Boston’s race.
She was a half mile away from the finish line when she saw a commotion up ahead.
“I noticed that the crowd was thickening quite a bit, lots of people standing instead of running. Also spectators in the road and people running back towards me so we all kind of stopped and asked ‘What was going on,’” Gans said.
Gans’ family was waiting for her at the finish line near one of the explosions, but they were unharmed.
“I and the other runners just feel very fortunate,” Gans said. “In my case, I’m very fortunate that my family was OK.”
Gans described the kindness she witnessed as “amazing,” with people in the streets handing out food and literally taking the shirts off of their backs to give to some of the runners.
Life Time Fitness said it has accounted for all 100 Minnesota run club members that it sent to Boston. The runners left the finish line just minutes before the explosions.
Mike Hendrickson, the running club coordinator at Life Time Fitness in St. Louis Park, said that he knew 50 people in the race.
“This is the ultimate marathon for marathoners to go to,” he said. “This was the 117th running. There is no other marathon that has the kind of history that Boston has.”
Since the Life Time runners were all staying at one hotel, it was easy to make sure everyone was OK, Hendrickson said.
The Life Time runners account for about 20 percent of the registered Minnesota runners.
Forty-eight-year-old Tim Wright of Sauk Rapids had just finished running the marathon when he heard the first bomb detonate.
“I was changing into my dry clothes and I hear this humongous explosion,” Wright said.
His wife Brenda had been watching and was dangerously close to the second explosion.
“Something shook, like a big boom, like you could feel it in your chest,” Brenda said.
After Tim and Brenda found each other, Brenda sent their kids a text message back home.
“I sent them another text after that saying ‘I love you’ at the end, because I thought, ‘Oh my god, what if this is the last communication that you read from me?’ It was just really, really scary,” she said.
Chris Conte is a former Minnesota television reporter who was running his fifth Boston Marathon. But the finish to this one would be unlike the others.
“You just heard this boom. I mean it was this incredible, loud bang,” Conte said.
The first explosion happened minutes after he finished and across the street from where his parents were watching. He found them safe shortly after.
“It was scary. It’s something that you don’t expect, especially in that environment,” he said.
Other Minnesotans WCCO talked with said they were being told by police not to gather in crowds, and to stay in their hotels Monday night.
The Department of Public Safety says there are no known threats to Minnesota right now.