ELKHART — None of several confirmed runners from Elkhart County or nearby were known to be among individuals killed or injured by the explosions near the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, April 15.
Immediately contacting some of those participants proved difficult, though, because of the volume of cell phone traffic taking place in the area. In all, nearly 27,000 runners competed.
Bekah Shenk of Elkhart said she was just two blocks away when the explosions occurred, though she had finished her race some 45 minutes earlier.
“I could clearly hear (the explosions) and could see smoke,” said Shenk, 27, an Elkhart Central track and cross country coach who was competing at Boston for the first time. “My relatives and I were talking. We knew something was wrong, but we didn’t know what until we heard from family by phone who were watching the news.”
Shenk boarded a plane to Chicago on Monday evening.
Sarah Dille of Elkhart said her friend, former Elkhartan Tom Sherwood, was safe, though Sherwood told her he was merely about 300 yards away when the explosions occurred.
“He and some other runners are (stranded) right now in a Mexican restaurant,” Dille said around 5:45 p.m. after talking to Sherwood about 45 minutes earlier. “He said, ‘We all just ran the Boston Marathon. We don’t really feel like eating,’ but they’re stuck there and everyone’s real nice and they keep bringing them water.”
The two explosions took place around 2:45 p.m., according to national media reports, or about 4 hours and 9 minutes into the race based on a video that showed the finish line clock.
Loretta Lecount of Elkhart had just finished about five minutes prior to that, according to official results posted on baa.org.
Sherwood, 54, of Boerne, Texas, had finished about nine minutes prior to the explosions, based on the posted results.
Goshen College track and cross country coach Doug Yoder — a three-time Boston participant — said that competitors are typically ushered quickly out of the area upon finishing.
“I know the set-up out there, and unless you’re receiving first aid, they don’t let you linger at all,” Yoder said, alluding to officials who try to minimize congestion. “They want you to pick up your bag right away at the start area about three or four blocks away, and then the meeting area for friends and family is about another five or six blocks away.”
Though Yoder is eight years, and hundreds of miles, removed from his last Boston Marathon participation, he acknowledged he was shaken by Monday’s events.
“Oh, man, it’s unbelievable,” he said. “It makes you (pause). The other thing is you have to qualify to get into that race, and then to have that experience spoiled by some crazy person, it’s terrible.”
Andy Williams of Middlebury finished in 2 hours, 28 minutes and 29 seconds — good for 68th place overall — to lead Elkhart area runners.
Lyle Bontrager of Shipshewana finished in 2:53:36 and Merlin Miller of White Pigeon, Mich., in 2:57:38.
Shenk finished in 3:34:33, Bristol’s Karissa Cominator in 3:40:49, Goshen’s Keith Gladfelter in 3:43:13, Sherwood in 4:00:16 and Lecount in 4:04:02.
Former Elkhartan Jenn Burkett of Plymouth, Mich., finished in 3:37:19.
Indiana residents who are having trouble contacting family members in Boston should call 617-635-4500, according to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.