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Local runners thankful to escape injury at Boston Marathon

Published: Monday, April 15, 2013 4:07 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 5:44 a.m. CDT

In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, residents of the Tri-Cities and the Kaneland area who competed in the race spent the hours after the race glued to televisions, mobile phones and computers, as they assured their friends and family of their well-being.

According to official race results and athlete tracking information posted on the Boston Marathon website, 20 runners from the Tri-Cities and Kaneland area participated in the race Monday.

Of those, 19 were able to finish the race, with most finishing well before two explosions ripped through the area around the marathon's finish line, ending the 2013 race in horror.

The blasts occurred after the top racers, including many runners from the Tri-Cities, had completed the course. But thousands of others were still running at the time of the explosions.

Video footage showed an explosion off to the side of the street as runners were nearing the finish line, with some runners toppling over from the concussion. Smoke rose from a sidewalk, and photos of the scene afterward showed a sidewalk slicked with blood.

Boston Marathon officials described the blasts near the finish line as originating from "two bombs." Two federal law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the blasts were caused by explosive devices.

In addition to two confirmed deaths, The Boston Globe reported that nearly 100 people could have been injured in the blasts.

However, Tri-Cities area residents did not appear as of Monday evening to be among those injured or killed.

Nicholas Grahovec, of Sugar Grove, who was running in his first Boston Marathon, said he had completed the course about 45 minutes before the first explosion.

"I was two blocks away, with my wife and two girls, in the family meeting area," Grahovec said.

He said his wife and daughters had been near the finish line less than an hour earlier to watch him finish the course.

"I don't know what side of the street they had been on, but God knows what awful things might have happened if I had not finished when I did," Grahovec said. "I'm still a little shook up, knowing that if it had gone off 45 minutes sooner, or if I had run a little slower….

"I'm glad I was able to cross the finish line when I did."

After the explosions, Grahovec said he and his family walked back to their hotel to follow the events on television and online.

Elise Conner, of St. Charles, also said she was not far from the finish area when the  explosions occurred.

"I hadn't even picked up my medal yet, when there were these loud booms," Conner said. "I saw the smoke, and there was a lot of confusion after."

She said no one around her seemed to know immediately what had happened.

But Conner said police and race workers instructed everyone "to keep moving."

Conner said she later located her husband and other family members who were there to watch her run.

"They had just parked the car a few blocks away when it happened," she said. Conner said she was able to check in with others from the area with whom she had traveled to Boston, and "everybody I know, they're fine."

"I'm very thankful that I was running a little faster today," she said,

In addition to Grahovec and Conner, local runners listed on the marathon's website as having finished the race include: from St. Charles, Phillip Anderson, Gina Bartindale, Heather Corcoran, Hernando Morales, Jim Stone, Meghan Ginter, Heather Kos, Eugene Schmidt and Brooke Williams; and from Geneva, Rich Calvario, Angie Dudman, Richard Hill, Kaitlin Krause, Michael Majewski, Jeanine McMillen, Elizabeth Sacrey, and Elena Shemyakina.

Tammy Hartje, of St. Charles, also participated, but had not yet reached the finish area when the marathon was halted.

Eric Ott, owner of Geneva Running Outfitters and member of a local running club, said he had received confirmation of the well-being of seven runners, including Hartje, Williams, Dudman, Majewski, McMillen, Schmidt and Sacrey.

Ott said he would presume that those who finished the race were unharmed, as well, as he said they would likely have been clear of the finish area before the explosions occurred.

• The Washington Post contributed to this report.

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