Flanagan, area runners avoid blasts in Boston

Apr. 15, 2013 @ 10:24 PM

Monday started as a celebration for North Carolina graduate and three-time Olympian Shalane Flanagan, who was the fastest American woman and the fourth fastest female overall in her first Boston Marathon.
Growing up in Marblehead, about 20 miles from the finish line, she had watched her father Steve run this event and dreamed of running down the homestretch on Boyleston Avenue.
But her mood turned drastically a few hours later, as that final stretch she dreamed about became a scene of mayhem. Two bombs went off near the finish line, killing at least three and injuring more than 100.
“Devastating,” Flanagan wrote on Twitter.
Flanagan’s change in emotions, from excitement to sorrow, would be mirrored by other local runners.
Allie Bigelow, a 39-year-old runner from Durham who finished an hour before the explosion, wrote on Twitter that all the Bull City Track Club runners were OK.
“All safe,” Bigelow wrote. “All thoroughly traumatized though. So awful.”
Flanagan’s mother, Cheryl Treworgy, was photographing the race for Athletics Weekly, a magazine based in the United Kingdom, and was in the press room when the attack occurred. At first she thought it was a construction sound, but someone next to her said it sounded like a bomb. The second explosion left no doubt.
“It shook up everyone because this is a day of celebration,” Treworgy said. “Patriots’ Day is a holiday here. This is a gentle sport. It’s not one that promotes violence by any means, and it really shook up a lot of the runners.”
As Treworgy spoke by phone around 6 p.m., she said hotels in the area were on lockdown as emergency personnel searched for other explosives.
Flanagan’s sister, Maggie, also completed the race and had cleared the area well before the incident, which occurred a little before 3 p.m.
Maggie’s experience mirrored that of Chapel Hill’s Allen Baddour, a Superior Court Judge who finished at 12:59 p.m. Allen’s father, former North Carolina athletic director Dick Baddour, said that his son had left the race area and only found out about the bombs when he began receiving text messages and phone calls.
In total, about 17,500 runners officially finished, while another 4,500 were diverted because of the attack. Forty-four runners from Durham and Chapel Hill completed the course, while eight had started but were stopped short of the finish line.
The attack overshadowed a solid race by Flanagan, who finished with a time of 2:27:08, 43 seconds behind race winner Rita Jeptoo of Kenya. Meseret Hailu of Ethopia was second and Sharon Cherop of Kenya was third, as an American has not won since Joan Benoit Samuelson in 1985.
“She did the best she could have,” said Treworgy, who set a women’s world record for the marathon in 1971. “It was very tactical, and she hung in there, really, really well. The downhills really hurt her and left her legs feeling like there was nothing in them, but she beat some good people.”