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Norwood runner recounts Boston Marathon explosion; four area runners were entered to race


Norwood native Colleen A. Cotey had just finished the Boston Marathon for the first time, and was about a block away from the finish line when the sound of an explosion pierced the air.

“I didn’t really know what it was, then probably less than three minutes later people were in a panic,” she said.

Uninjured in the explosion, Ms. Cotey said she was nervous because she didn’t have her cell phone with her. Her mother, Ann B., had gone near the finish line area to watch her complete the race.

Borrowing a cell phone from a stranger, her first call was unsuccessful, as the city’s cellular networks likely were overloaded. Using a second person’s phone, she was able to reach her mother, also uninjured, and told her to meet her at the hotel they were staying at in the city, where her father, Charles W., and boyfriend, Alexander G. Boak, were waiting for them.

Mr. Boak said he hadn’t heard the initial blast and, while waiting for his girlfriend to appear, he received a large number of calls and text messages from friends looking to see if Ms. Cotey was safe.

“I didn’t know what to tell them,” he said. He said the four weren’t reunited until about a half hour after the explosion.

“It was kind of nerve-wracking until we saw her walking down the street,” Mr. Boak said. “You’re hoping the worst didn’t happen and, luckily, it didn’t.”

Ms. Cotey said that she still was processing what she had just seen.

“At first, it was kind of unbelievable, and now it’s sinking in,” she said. “Wow, that really happened.”

Another north country native also ran in the race.

Lauren M. Sischo, who graduated from South Jefferson Central School District in 2005, was on a bus leaving the city when she learned of the explosion from a fellow passenger. Ms. Sischo now lives in Southboro, Mass., about 20 minutes outside the city.

The Rodman native said that, after what she called an exciting run and her best finish of the three times she had participated, the news was “not a good way to end the day.”

“There were so many people out there,” Ms. Sischo said. “For this to happen, your emotions are everywhere.”

Three other north country residents were listed as entrants for the race. However, Audra Adair, 37, of Sackets Harbor; Mary Kate Curran, 30, and Mike Howard, 48, both of Canton, did not participate.

Ms. Curran and Mr. Howard, who both work at St. Lawrence University’s Athletic Department, were not able to attend the race due to scheduling conflicts.

Mr. Howard, the school’s director of cross country and track and field, said he had run the event last year, but was disappointed with his time, which he blamed on the unseasonably warm weather. He had trained since then with Ms. Curran, is the school’s women’s track & field coach, in order to improve his time.

Mr. Howard said about 40 alumni of the school’s track program were at the race, and based on the messages he had received, he said none of them were injured.

Mrs. Adair, a professional runner, said she was planning on attending the race, but was told by her coach she would instead train for an Iron Man event happening in a few weeks.

When she learned of the explosion, Mrs. Adair said she reflected on the security at past races.

“It’s never been a big deal,” she said. “It’s just mass chaos all the time, and you don’t even think about it.”

Mrs. Adair said she hopes everyone involved was safe, comparing the running community to a big family.

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