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UPDATE: Boston Marathon runners with SCV connection shaken by experience

‘Everybody just started backing up,’ 70-year-old runner says of those on course with him

Posted: April 15, 2013 2:54 p.m.
Updated: April 15, 2013 6:30 p.m.

At least 15 Santa Clarita Valley marathon runners competing in Monday’s death-marred Boston Marathon — including a 70-year-old pulled from the course half a mile before the finish line — are OK today but weighing the severity of the deadly incident, according to family, friends and at least one competing runner.

Tony Teske, 70, a member of the Santa Clarita Running Club, was a half mile from the finish line when the blasts happened, he said in a telephone interview from Boston Monday.

Teske ended his bid to complete his 12th Boston Marathon, he said.

“When it happened, everybody just started backing up,” he said of his fellow runners.

“The runners ahead of me — I would like to think they ran like hell,” he said.

At the 24.5-mile mark, a runner near him held up a cell phone for Teske to see.

“He said ‘Something’s happened,’ and then I got another mile when people (runners) just started to back up,” he said.

For a few moments, no one knew what had happened or what was unfolding, he said.

“There were Boston police officers posted along the race route and they didn’t know what happened,” he said.

Teske, who used to live in the Santa Clarita Valley but now resides in Washington State, was pulled from the race with other runners and led back to the buses they arrived in.

“A woman held out a phone and said, ‘Is there anyone you want me to call?” Teske said. “‘Yes,’ I told her. ‘My son.’”

At least three people died and more than 100 were injured near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday when two bombs went off, leaving a terrifying scene of broken glass, smoke and severed limbs, authorities said.

A third blast rocked the John F. Kennedy Library several miles away and more than an hour later, but no injuries were reported, police said. A senior U.S. intelligence official said two other explosive devices were found near the marathon finish line.

Some 27,000 runners took part in the 26.2-mile race, one of the world’s premier marathons.

Leanne Mohr, 27, of Santa Clarita, had just finished running Monday’s marathon in three hours, 23 minutes, 14 seconds and was relaxing with friends a block from the finish line when she heard two loud blasts, said her father, Jeff Riggin.

“She called me 30 seconds after it happened,” he told The Signal Monday.

“She said ‘Dad, there were two big explosions. Is there anything in the news about it?’ But, when she called I couldn’t find anything,” he said.

Father and daughter kept in regular touch throughout the day.

“When they were all sitting in a restaurant talking later, you could tell by talking to her that she was shaken by the event,” he said.

Friends and family of Mohr and the other 14 local runners monitored developments throughout the day on a Facebook page maintained by the Santa Clarita Runners Club.

Runner Dennis Lebman posted initial reports saying “what a great weekend” with updates expressing a much different sentiment.

“Now it’s all hitting them,” Riggin said about Lebman, his daughter and the other local athletes competing there Monday.

“When they get back to their (hotel) room and they’re watching the news they learn how big the thing actually was,” Riggin said.

Friends and family of runners in the Santa Clarita Valley — many of whom were monitoring the runners online in real time — began receiving immediate word of what had happened.

Within an hour, because of constant communication maintained through computers and cell phones — despite a brief drop in cell phone service — the status of all local runners was known.

“They’re all fine and they’ve all been accounted for,” Margaret Riley Bates of the Santa Clarita Runners Club said an hour after the blast.

Bates said she spoke to Teske’s son Matt, who lives in Portland, Ore.

“He (Tony Teske) said he didn’t know a lot. He just knows he didn’t get his medal and we told him we’re glad you’re alive.”
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt






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