Local runners planned to be at Boston race

Several area residents who registered for the 2013 Boston Marathon did not make the event. Those runners spent Monday taking calls from concerned family and friends, as well as trying to contact fellow athletes who took part in the race that ended with two blasts.

Cortland resident Carrie Albert said she sat in stunned silence as news of the explosions poured in.

“I was on my way home from work when I first heard about it,” Albert said. “I was very shaken and I just had a pit in my stomach.”

The 37-year-old was among area runners slated to make the 600-mile trip to participate in the annual event. However, a lack of preparation forced her to ditch the idea at the last minute.

“Things just didn’t work out,” Albert said. “My training didn’t go as planned and I decided not to go. I’ve run in the marathon five times since 2005, so I was initially very disappointed that I wasn’t able to go.

“Knowing everything that has happened, thank God I didn’t go,” she said.

Two bombs exploded in the crowded streets near the finish line of the marathon, killing three people and injuring more than 130.

Joe Sliman of Boardman and Sarah Flament of Poland also watched the day’s events unfold knowing they also may have avoided injury.

After planning to take part in the marathon, Sliman decided he wasn’t ready for the rigors involved. Up until the last minute, he planned to attend as a spectator.

“Things just didn’t work out,” Sliman said. “Suddenly, people started calling my phone and asking if I was OK. That’s how I found out about it.”

Sliman knows the area of the blast well from previous marathons.

“That area is particularly difficult to patrol because there are thousands of people packed in together,” he said.

Flament thanks a higher power for helping her avoid the tragedy.

“Thank God I didn’t go to the race or spectate,” Flament said. “I guess there was a stronger force beyond my gut instinct to not go. The whole situation is so extremely sad.”

All three runners desperately tried to get in touch with friends who took part in the race. Sliman explained that he spoke to a good friend just before the race kicked off.

“I talked to Mike Maillis right before the race started just to wish him good luck,” Sliman said. Maillis is a resident of Campbell. Sliman was unable to contact him until hours after the event. “He’s fine, and he didn’t even know anything happened until he got to the airport to leave Boston.”

Albert said she knew almost every runner from the area taking part in the marathon. “The racing community is very close, so I recognize everyone’s name on the list.”

The Badger High School track coach also speculated on how this event may permanently alter the way spectators are handled during marathons.

“The crowd support for racing is really one of the best aspects of it,” Albert said. “We have the best fans in the world. To have something like this happen is just unbelievable. At the Super Bowl, they have a ton of security and people go through metal detectors.

“At a race like this, it’s just so open, which makes it a lot harder,” she said.

Sliman agreed the explosion raises interesting questions for the racing community.

“With a marathon, strung out over 26 miles, there are thousands of port-a-johns and trash cans along the way,” Sliman said. “The question is, how can you prevent it from happening?”