Having completed his first Boston Marathon on Monday afternoon, Ryan Prachnau was back at his hotel when his cellphone started buzzing with text messages from family members and friends concerned for his safety.
The 30-year-old Abbotsford resident turned on the TV to discover that two explosions had rocked the finish line area at 2:45 p.m.
Media reports out of Boston are indicating that three people have died – including an eight-year-old child – and more than 130 are injured, including at least 17 critically.
“We turned on the TV, and we’re just watching this thing now,” Prachnau told The News via cellphone. “It’s pretty sad to see this whole thing happen.”
Prachnau traveled to Boston with his wife Sophia for the 117th edition of the storied race. He finished in a personal best time of two hours, 38 minutes and 37 seconds, crossing the finish line at 12:38 p.m. – more than two hours before the detonations.
“I just feel very fortunate that I was able to finish earlier and was able to get out of there,” he said. “My wife was watching right where this happened (at the finish line). She was watching me at the finish, right in the same area.”
Prachnau was one of four Abbotsford runners registered for the Boston Marathon, along with Monica Murphy, Phil Davies and David Yakashiro. All four have been confirmed safe and sound.
Watching the coverage on TV was a harrowing ordeal for friends and family back home.
Trish Ratcliffe, Davies’s wife, was following his progress on the athlete tracker on the event website and saw that he’d crossed the finish line at 2:28 p.m.
“Then I got the call at work from my sister: ‘Did you hear?'” she said. “I knew he was finished, so I was very tense, but I felt fairly certain that he was OK. My educated guess was that he was OK, but then you always start to doubt.”
Davies phoned to confirm he was safe – he was picking up his bag after completing the race when he heard the blast “well behind” him.
“Because he was ahead of the pack, thankfully he didn’t see any of that (carnage),” Ratcliffe said. “It’s just a terrible, terrible thing, so senseless.”
Yakashiro, president of Sunrise Toyota in Abbotsford, was confirmed safe and sound via the business’s Twitter feed. Murphy has also checked in with loved ones in Abbotsford to let them know she’s safe.
Mission residents Colin Mclean and Chris Race also participated in the race, and both have sent word that they’re uninjured.
Mclean, a teacher at Hatzic Elementary School teacher, ran the half-marathon, and according to principal Melinda Dempster, he crossed the finish line about five minutes before the explosions. Family contacted the school to let everyone know that he was uninjured, said Dempster.
Chris Race is a District of Mission employee, and according to a text received by a co-worker, she was 400 metres from the finish line when the bombs went off. Her companion Peter Haffner is also safe, and was around the corner when the detonations occurred.
In a press conference streamed live via the web, U.S President Barack Obama vowed to find out who was behind the bombings.
“Make no mistake, we will get to the bottom of this,” said Obama. “Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.”
• If you are concerned for a friend or family member who ran the Boston Marathon today, you can see their last check-in here: raceday.baa.org/individual.html.
• Google has a people finder: http://google.org/personfinder/2013-boston-explosions.
• Marathon runners who are safe and families looking for loved ones can visit the Red Cross: http://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php.
Ryan Prachnau, pictured above winning the Run for Water half-marathon in 2009, was one of four Abbotsford participants in the 117th running of the Boston Marathon on Monday. He, and all the other local runners, escaped injury when two bombs detonated near the finish line. (Michelle Watrin photo)