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UPDATE: Victoria runners, spectators recount Boston Marathon explosion chaos
If it wasn’t for a missed subway stop, a trio of Victoria residents would have been at the Boston Marathon finish line when two explosions occurred Monday
Saanich fitness instructor Pam Glover, who teaches at Cedar Hill Recreation Centre, ran the marathon with a target of four hours and was redirected a half mile from the end within a minutes of the finish.
Her daughter Dana, Dana’s boyfriend Aztec King, and friend Susan Rogers had all made their way to the finish line anticipating Pam’s arrival.
But the trio of supporters got off at the wrong subway station and were out of sight of the finish line at the time of the explosions, around 12:30 p.m. PST.
“They were minutes away and were trying to get to where the bomb hit but got off the train a stop early, and were upset about that actually, so it’s like a miracle that none of us were there," Glover said.
Glover heard the explosions during the last mile of her race but had no idea what it was.
(Inset photo of Glover prior to the Marathon on Monday.)
“I heard two bangs like fireworks or some sort of celebration," she said. "As I rounded the final corner and could see the finish line, there was a barricade with policeman telling people to go away, and I’m thinking, ‘this is not the finish line.’ I know my time was right on, I was about two minutes from finishing.”
Police told runners and spectators to head to the nearby river.
That’s when a Good Samaritan helped Glover connect with her family and get her bearings.
“It was chaos… this woman, she was my angel, all of a sudden she was by my side and said, “I’ll lead you to safety.”
The woman gave Glover warm clothes, and let Glover use her cellphone to text Dana.
“We connected with my family and friends, and made sure they (Dana, King and Rogers) were safe. The woman gave me food and water - she was my angel.”
Glover waited for about an hour before returning to her hotel, the Boston Park Plaza, which is a block away from the explosion scene.
Speaking from inside the hotel, Glover said the plan is to “hunker down” and wait for more information. The group was going stay until Friday but are now unsure about the trip’s itinerary.
“We’re all safe, everyone’s been texting family and friends. We’re told the (local) cell phones are off and to stay in the hotel, and do not join any large groups or congregate with others.”
It was Glover’s first Boston Marathon, one she thought would be “a dream come true.”
Glover plans to reconnect with her Good Samaritan and send her flowers.
“She was a typical person from Boston, she was so supportive. The people here in Boston are so wonderful. The whole event (was) so positive. The streets (were) lined with people high-fiving us the whole way. This is terrible.”
Katie Munro, a Camosun College business student, spoke with The News from the home of a friend's mother in Boston. She left the finish line about 10 minutes before the first explosion occurred.
"I hung around the finish line (area) for probably 15 minutes, maybe 20 minutes, and was sitting a block and a half from where it happened for a while after that," she said. "Finally I decided to get up and move onto the subway, and I think (the explosions) happened right when I got down into the subway because a whole bunch of people came down the stairs. I was still totally oblivious. I thought ‘Oh, people in a hurry.'"
Munro heard comments about an explosion, but she wasn't aware of how serious the incident was until she arrived back to her friend's home.
“When I got back (my host) hugged me and I thought she was congratulating me at first," she said. "And then she confirmed, it was all over the news. She said, ‘I can’t believe it. You’re so lucky, you’re fine.’”
Munro was the only member of her Peninsula Runners running group to attend the Boston Marathon. She said the atmosphere in the city is tense, and she's not sure if she'll be on her flight back to Victoria, scheduled for Tuesday morning.
“I’m assuming most of the travellers want to get out as soon as possible,” she said.
At least 27 Greater Victoria runners were scheduled to attend the Boston Marathon, according to the Boston Athletic Association website.
More than 230 British Columbians were scheduled to run the race.
Bert Robillard of Sidney finished the Boston Marathon just nine minutes before the explosions near the finish line. In an email to the Peninsula News Review this afternoon, he wrote that the incident was terrible but he and the people he is with in Boston are safe.
• Friends and relatives of Canadians believed to be affected by the Boston Marathon explosions who need assistance should contact @TravelGoC on Twitter, call 1-800-387-3124 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Google's people finder helps locate online information about individuals involved in the Boston Marathon: http://google.org/personfinder/2013-boston-explosions.
• If you are looking for missing a missing person, call the Boston Mayor's Missing Person's hotline at 1-617-635-4500
-with files from Daniel Palmer