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Local runner was blocks away from Boston blasts

Apr 16, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Three Lander runners participated in the Boston Marathon on Monday and presumably were in the area when two bombs went off near the finish line, killing three people and wounding more than 100 others.

There was no indication that any of the local athletes were injured, and one of the runners, Tiffany Hartpence, 28, confirmed she and her family are safe.

Two other Boston Marathon runners listed Lander as their hometown: Katie Everson, 25, and Gary Wilmot, 46. They could not be reached for comment by press time, but posted race times indicate they would have finished running at least 30 minutes before the bombs went off at about 3 p.m. local time.

Hartpence

Speaking with The Ranger, Hartpence said the race started well.

"At the starting line, I felt like I met the world, 27,000 incredible runners from around the world (were) shaking hands," she said.

Hartpence set off with the second wave of runners, and the positivity continued through the race.

"I gave high fives to hundreds of little hands along the way," she said.

After crossing the finish line, Hartpence could barely walk, but she made her way through a crowd to pick up some food and her race bag. She met up with her husband, Sam, and son, Chase, 2, but her mother and older son, 4-year-old Alden, were still in the crowd watching the finish.

Sam called Tiffany's mother to tell her to meet a block away on Stuart Street, and then everything changed.

"He hung up the phone and about a minute later the ground shook and it sounded like a cannon had fired," Tiffany Hartpence said. "The world felt like it stopped, the crowd went completely silent."

A woman next to her tried to console Hartpence saying not to worry because if it was anything to be afraid of they would have heard sirens by then.

"The minute she said that, sirens came from every direction," Hartpence said.

Right then, she heard a second boom coming from the finish line, in the direction of her mother and son.

"My heart sank," Hartpence said.

The Associated Press reports that the "fiery twin blasts" occurred about 10 seconds and 100 yards apart from one another. The bombs reportedly knocked spectators and at least one runner to the ground.

She, her husband and her younger son rushed through the crowd and spotted the two separated family members. The family all met up within two blocks of sites of the explosions.

"It was a miracle we reunited in the midst of the commotion," Hartpence said.

The group sprinted out of the area, carrying the children on their backs, and found a small café.

"Even post-marathon mamas run with babies on their back," Hartpence said.

They dashed inside and took refuge there with another father and his two children.

They stayed as long as they could, but café's employees wanted to find their own families. When the restaurant locked up, Hartpence and her family left to find somewhere to go and some way to get there.

All the taxis were booked, so though they were afraid, they tried to use the subway. Ambulances blocked the door to the train station, however, and it was closed. Around them, sirens flew by from every direction, and the sound of the explosions still rang in their minds.

Despite the chaos, emergency vehicles stopped to give aid, runners helped each other and locked-up businesses opened their doors to offer a haven to bystanders.

Eventually, a man stopped his vehicle and offered the Hartpences a ride. He drove them to their hotel in a suburb where they spent the night.

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