By Shane Frederick
Free Press Staff Writer
BOSTON — Chaun Cox only had about an hour to enjoy the accomplishment of completing the Boston Marathon when he heard the blasts.
“You’re just worried about whoever’s hurt,” Cox said in a phone interview with The Free Press on Monday afternoon. “The marathon doesn’t matter.”
All known Mankato-area runners were safe after explosions rocked the finish line of the Boston Marathon, according to Cox and a group of runners that included runners Josh Henning of Elysian and Cindra Kamphoff of Mankato. Other area runners were confirmed OK through social media updates.
Mike Thomas of Mankato was enjoying a post-race beer with his wife, Lori, in a second-floor restaurant about 300 yards away from the explosions. After the second explosion, the restaurant became a scene of chaos as patrons fled, breaking their glasses and dumping food on the ground.
Thomas had finished the race about 50 minutes before the blasts, and spent about 20 minutes in the recovery area. He passed the site of the explosions, on the other side of the street, about 15 minutes before the bombs went off.
Eventually, Thomas and his wife made the mile or so walk to their hotel, where they planned to stay Monday evening. His plan was to take in a Celtics game Tuesday, but he wasn’t sure if the game would take place.
Like Cox, Thomas soon realized his own 3-hour-15-minute finish was irrelevant to the story of the day.
“The first thing I did was take my medal off and put it away,” he said.
Cox, a North Mankato doctor, had run the race in 3 hours, 4 minutes, 21 seconds. After the explosions, he went back into doctor mode to see if help was needed at the finish line. He was told there was plenty of doctors and emergency workers and to return to his hotel.
Most of the Mankato group had been in their hotel, located about two blocks from the finish line, when the blasts went off.
“I just walked into my hotel room and was taking off my shoes when I heard two great big booms,” Henning said. “I didn’t realize what happened until I turned on the TV. It’s chaos.”
Cellular phone service was overloaded in the hours after the incident as people tried to find out the status of the nearly 25,000 runners as well as of spectators who, Henning said, were “12- to 15-people deep on each side of the sidewalk” along the marathon’s final stretch.
“It’s absolutely crazy,” he said.
Kamphoff said there were 15 ambulances parked outside of their hotel, and people were nervous about what might happen next as they waited in their rooms. Over that time, they heard a third explosion and learned of the discovery of more explosives.
“It’s such an incredible event; it’s one of the best marathons in the world,” said Kamphoff, who finished the race a little more than a minute after Cox. “It’s an amazing experience to run and finish it. But it changes it a lot when something like this happens.”
— Staff Writer Dan Linehan contributed to this story