The day before the Boston Marathon, Athena runner Eric Jensen lamented that a knee injury would keep him from running the iconic race for a third time.
Disappointment turned to shock when he learned two explosions had rocked the finish line area, killing three and injuring more than 140. The blasts, about 50 to 100 yards apart by some estimates, blew apart barricades and shattered glass. One video of the scene shows a bloody spectator in a wheelchair being helped to an ambulance.
Jensen started phoning and Facebooking to discover the fate of several friends and learned most had finished long before the blast. He was still trying to find information about another running buddy.
The Athena man said finishers normally pass beneath a photographers bridge, cross the line and then walk along a three-block area of Boylston Street, collecting food, drinks, space blanket and medals. They pick up their bags and head to a shuttle.
This year, the explosions changed everything. Some of his friends, fellow members of the Marathon Maniacs club, had rooms in a hotel near the scene.
They said it was chaos on the street, Jensen said.
Jacob Puzey of Hermiston said his brother, Thomas Puzey, found himself in a similar situation.
He planned to run the race to pace elite runner Stephanie Rothstein-Bruce, but could not attend because his class schedule at Northern Arizona University was too hectic. Rothstein-Bruce, who finished in 15th place for the womens race with a time of 2:35:31, and her family were safe, Puzey said.
After the explosions, runners still on the course were stopped at mile 24.
There was a wall of runners, Jensen said. There were still several thousand runners yet to finish.
The Boston Athletic Association, which hosts the marathon, has an interactive site allowing one to track any of the runners as they progress along the route. The only other local runner besides Jensen listed with no time was Cynthia Wrinkle, of Milton-Freewater. The website shows Wrinkle with a time of 4:27:15 at the 40-kilometer mark, but doesnt give a final time.
The Walla Walla Union Bulletin reported that Wrinkle finished the race and was en route to a motel when the blast occurred. Her stepdaughter, Meredith Wrinkle, communicated with the reporter via Facebook.
Jensen said he was touched when friends and acquaintances texted, Facebooked or stopped by his office to say they were relieved he wasnt at the race. Still, he has mixed feeling about missing the marathon.
Part of me wishes I was there with my friends, Jensen said. I can imagine what theyre going through.
Contact Kathy Aney at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0810. East Oregonian reporter Chris Rizer assisted with this story.