Nearly 160 Iowans were registered to run in Monday’s Boston Marathon, where two bomb blasts killed two people and injured dozens more. So far, there no reports that Iowans are among the victims.
Three brothers from Cedar Falls ran in the race. Joey, Daniel, and David Sevcik are members of the Iowa State Running Club and according to Joey, they left the finish line area about 10 minutes before the explosions. “Many of our guys heard an explosion…but didn’t know what it was,” Sevcik said. “We were somewhere between the 25th and 26th mile marker. We’re not exactly sure where.”
Sevcik said his group only heard one of the explosions and didn’t know what was going on until they started receiving messages on their cell phones. “We didn’t assume, you know, it was a bomb or thing anything like that. We were just kind of like, ‘Oh, what was that.’ And didn’t think anything of it until we got back into cell service and everybody’s cell phone started to go off and say, ‘Hey! Are you guys OK? Are you guys OK?’ And then that’s when we realized what exactly it was,” Sevcik said. “There were also, at that time all of a sudden, ambulances and fire trucks flying down every which way through the middle of Boston.”
This was Sevcik’s sixth marathon and even with the chaotic nature at finish lines, Sevcik said he’d never been concerned for his safety. “I’ve never felt unsafe at all. There was no reason to feel unsafe (Monday) even. It’s such a crowded area, especially at the finish line,” he said. “Thousands upon thousands of people cheering…so there’s no reason to feel anxious. It was just a completely packed area, so it’s kind of shocking.”
The explosions happened about three hours after the winners crossed the finished line. Jeanine Penticoff of Cedar Rapids was about a half mile away from the finish line when officials stopped the race. “There were a lot of family members who were waiting at the finish line that were associated with the runners we were running alongside, so there was just a lot of worry and concern,” Penticoff said.
It took Penticoff more than an hour to find her husband, as cell phone coverage was limited and roads had been closed off. “You just never know what’s going to happen, because obviously these things can happen at any time, at any place,” Penticoff said. This was the first Boston Marathon for Penticoff, who’s the Director of the Energy Efficiency Department at Alliant Energy.
Des Moines attorney Doug Gross got a phone call from his daughter, Eileen, shortly after the bomb blast, saying she was O.K. “Our daughter, Molly, was running in the race. I think Molly missed it by about 10 minutes,” Gross says. “Eileen, my wife, and then our oldest son, Eric, who was with Eileen, were looking for Molly and they went right near that finish line and just minutes before it went off they were right by there. They heard it go off. They thought it was something big dropping out of a building is what they described it as and then they said it was mass confusion — and thank God they’re safe. They’re all safe.”
Molly Gross was part of a group running to raise money for “Best Buddies,” an organization that helps people with disabilities. “There was a special place where they met in a law firm and so they went there and they were locked down there for about an hour-and-a-half to two hours, until they were free to go back to their hotel and I just talked to them and they’re back at the hotel and they’re fine, so thank goodness they are,” Gross told Radio Iowa shortly before six o’clock Iowa time.
Des Moines native Jeremey Hellickson, a pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays, was playing in Boston Monday afternoon. He knows the Gross family. Hellickson sent a text message to Mrs. Gross, checking to make sure the family was safe.
Jesse Gavin, KCNZ, and Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson contributed to this story