Traverse City Record-Eagle

December 23, 2013

Top 10: Area runners survive Boston Marathon


— TRAVERSE CITY — Gary Lake was about 1.3 miles shy of completing what he thought was his final Boston Marathon.

The now-67-year-old runner then had that shy dashed.

Now, he'll be able to complete it.

Lake was in a group of runners who was taken off the course after explosions rocked last year's Boston Marathon finish line. He said event organizers offered him — as well as the others who didn't finish — an entry in next year's race.

The journey of Lake and a handful of other Traverse City-area runners who ran in the marathon is No. 10 in the Record-Eagle's top 10 sports stories of 2013.

Coincidentally, Lake's training just started. He said he's on a four-month training regimen, which began Dec. 14, for this year's April 14 Boston Marathon.

"I'm all excited for it," said Honor resident Lake. "The Boston police do an extraordinary job on the entire marathon course. The police officers are like fence posts. Everywhere you look, their presence is very, very obvious. It's very comforting to know this is a big event for the city of Boston as well as the world. To see the police presence, it tells you how big it is to Boston."

It took Lake 35 marathons before he a ran a time that qualified him for Boston. He also planned to make this one extra special by turning it into a week-long vacation with his wife.

"As I'm nearing the finish line of the marathon, many years of training and racing come into review," Lake said. "You're out on that course a long time. ... I was preparing in my mind that this was my last Boston Marathon. Here's a dream that's come true. My wife is here to experience my having run the Boston Marathon."

While he's running, he keeps looking for a particular gas station sign atop a building. That signifies the 25-mile mark.

Before he comes to the marker many runners try to spot, he sees police in the road, directing runners onto the sidewalk. That is usually something that happens much later, when the city wants to open the streets back up to non-pedestrian traffic, and usually only affects the athletes at the very back of the race who are lagging far behind.

"We all know, as runners, that if you are the slowest runners, at some point, runners are made to leave the roadway and get on the sidewalk," Lake said. "I'm thinking to myself, 'Wait a minute. We're not anywhere near that kind of a time frame. We're hours away from them forcing us onto the sidewalks."

To make matters worse, the sidewalks are clogged with baseball fans leaving the Boston Red Sox game — many in the opposite direction.

Finally, Lake approaches an officer, who tells him, "There has been an incident at the finish line. The race has been canceled. It has been totally shut down and you have to evacuate this area."

Several other area runners also had Boston Marathon experiences that will not fade from memory — for better or worse.

Mciahel Jarvis, a 50-year-old administrator at The Leelanau School, was in the medical tent near the finish line when two bombs exploded, killing two people and injuring more than 100 others.

Jarvis had just finished in 3:40:17 seconds — receiving assistance in covering the final half-mile after suffering a stress fracture.

"There have been a lot of instances of incredible kindness," he said the day of the race. "I didn't have any clothes and it was really cold, and there were people who came and gave me a fleece. A couple volunteers helped me find my family. It took over an hour to find my family. That was a really frightening time, because I knew they had been trying to watch me at the finish line. I didn't know if they were there when the bomb went off. They weren't. They hadn't made it there. Finally, we were reunited. That was such a huge relief to all of us. We sat in the middle of the street and bawled for a couple minutes."

Julie Moses, a registered nurse at Munson Medical Center, was about a block away. She was putting a race medal around her neck when the first explosion rocked the area.

"The first one was loud, and I thought with all the electronics and cameras over the finish line, I thought it might be a generator or something of that sort," Moses said. "And then when you turned around and saw the amount of smoke and then heard the second one going off right after that ... we knew something bad had happened."

Krista Scott, a physical therapist at Excel Rehabilitation, was two blocks away at a designated family meeting area after finishing in 3:30:13.

"The first explosion startled everybody," Scott said. "Then we saw the smoke, followed by another explosion. We didn't know where or what. Sirens immediately started going off. We just started walking away from the race course at that point. Luckily, my entire family was at the family meeting station. Everybody was accounted for."

Former Benzie Central runner Michael Waterson had finished the race a couple hours earlier in a personal-best 2:39:17, but was still milling about in the area with friends.

"We had no idea what was happening," he said. "We heard some things on the street, but we didn't really know the entirety of what happened until about an hour and a half later. It's very unfortunate."

Kyle Barnes, of Eastport, was three blocks away at a restaurant when the first bomb went off. He gave his medal away to a young man who came into the restaurant very upset and crying because he had made it to mile 25 when the race was cancelled.