Confusion, Terror And Compassion For Mashpee Runners In The Aftermath Of Marathon Blasts

At least six Mashpee residents were among the 25,000 people who ran the Boston Marathon Monday, an event cut short by a deadly bomb attack near the finish line.

Three Mashpee runners shared their stories with the Enterprise this week.

Michael J. Falcone, 36, sprinted down a Boston street to find family members. Thomas F. Frazier, 55, was reunited with his wife in the lobby of a hotel after nearly three hours of searching for one another. Katherine J. Cote, 45, was stranded at a McDonald’s restaurant, shivering under a hotel blanket.

Their stories are similar to those of tens of thousands of people who crowded the streets of Boston Monday to take part in a usually joyful event that turned violent. Two bombs, placed 100 yards apart, killed three and injured more than 180 when they exploded around 2:50 PM.

Mr. Falcone, an information technology specialist, was running with his sister, 40-year-old Jennifer Kelly of Milton. They reached mile 25.5 when they noticed people turning around and running back toward them. They had not heard the explosions. Within minutes, a police officer stopped them.

“ ‘The marathon’s over for your protection,’ ” Mr. Falcone remembered the officer saying.

Police had not had enough time to put up a barricade. Confusion reigned, with people running and walking in every direction. Mr. Falcone knew that his girlfriend, stepmother, brother, and 8-year-old niece were near the finish line waiting to cheer them on. They sent a text message to say they were okay.

It had been close. They had been standing a few hundred feet from the second explosion. It was so loud that Mr. Falcone’s brother reported not being able to hear anything in the moments after the bomb went off. They grabbed Mr. Falcone’s 8-year-old niece, who had been holding on to the barrier that separates the runners from the spectators, and rushed into the Mandarin Oriental Boston Hotel.

With the word “explosion” repeated by runners all around him, Mr. Falcone sprinted a quarter-mile toward the place where he expected his family to be standing. A man in camouflage fatigues stopped him.

“My family is there,” he told the man.

“Not anymore,” the man replied, explaining that everyone was being evacuated.

Falcone Family Reunited

Mr. Falcone and his sister finally caught sight of their family after more than a mile of navigating increasingly closed-off roads. They were able to send text messages to each other before cellphone service was disrupted, which helped them find a central place to meet.

Mr. Falcone and his girlfriend saw each other across Stuart Street.

“I took a step toward the street and then all these sirens started going past,” he said. “There were police cars, the big black trucks, bomb squad vehicles, motorcycles. It seemed like this line of vehicles was never going to end. It was the longest 30 seconds I can remember.”

Everyone hugged and cried, he said.

For Mr. Frazier, a 55-year-old salesman from Mashpee, his fourth Boston Marathon ended at a barricade. “At first I was upset,” Mr. Frazier said. “I would have set a personal record. Then you realize there’s something really bad going on here.”

At first I was upset. I would have set a personal record. Then you realize there's something really bad going on here. 

                                           Thomas Frazier

Mr. Frazier, who was not carrying a cellphone, borrowed one from a stranger to send a text message to his wife, Deborah L. Frazier. His legs were cramping up because he had stopped running so suddenly. He had nothing to wear but shorts and a sleeveless racing singlet.

Just before 3 PM, Ms. Frazier was pleased because she found a parking place near the corner of Beacon Street and Dartmouth Street, a few blocks from the finish line. She might make it in time to see her husband. Ambulances rushed by. There must be a lot of runners having health problems at the finish, she thought.

Text messages began flooding her phone. “Are you all right?” friends asked. She learned about the explosions.

Last year, she watched her husband from the corner of Boylston and Exeter Streets, 100 feet from the location of the second bomb. This year, it had taken her more time to find parking.

“Had I not done one more loop around the city…” she said. “There are so many elements of what could have been.”

It took 20 minutes for Ms. Frazier to get the text message from her husband that he was unharmed. It took until 5:45 PM for the two to reunite in the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel, nearly a mile away. She cried when she saw him.

“I knew cognitively that he was okay, but seeing him was an emotional release,” she said.

Mr. Frazier said he was helped by many kind strangers along the way. Another runner gave him his Mylar blanket, a woman bought him a cup of coffee, and workers at the Sheraton gave him fruit to eat and towels for warmth.

“People were going out of their way to help, to make things easier,” he said. “It was like they wanted to meet any need they could in any way they could.”

Run For Those Who Can Not

Mr. Frazier will run Boston again next year. “I go into my office and I see that I don’t have a medal hanging there,” he said. “The reason I don’t have a medal and a finishing time is that people died. I will run it every year I can. I think that’s the best way to honor those who lost their lives and got injured.”

The couple went back to Boston Tuesday to pick up their car, which was parked in an area closed off by police.

Like Mr. Frazier, 45-year-old bartender and exercise instructor Katherine J. Cote got a lot of help from strangers, she said. When her marathon ended at the barricade, word was, “someone had gotten hurt” and that the race was canceled.

“I don’t know who got hurt, but that’s kind of crazy,” Ms. Cote remembers thinking. Slowly, details spread that there had been an explosion.

Someone from the Eliot Hotel gave her a blanket and she started walking toward the bus that the Falmouth Track Club and the Cape Cod Athletic Club had chartered. She needed to walk to Huntington Avenue, where the bus was parked, but at each intersection, her way was blocked by police.

The reason I don’t have a medal and a finishing time is that people died. I will run it every year I can. I think that’s the best way to honor those who lost their lives and got injured.

                                         Thomas Frazier 

“You can’t come this way because there are more bombs here,” police yelled.

She was told by officials to walk to Boston Common, but when she got there, she was told to go elsewhere.

Sitting in a McDonald’s near Boston Common with no money, no food, and no water, she called the bus driver with what was left of her cellphone battery. The bus had departed and was traveling on Route I-93. A friend drove from Plymouth to pick her up.

When Ms. Cote finally ate dinner at 8:45 PM, her family turned off the television news.

“It was too much,” she said.

For Mr. Falcone and his family, news of the bombings has also been too hard to watch. He said his family members do not want to talk about the attack.

Watching the news Monday evening, he noticed that his girlfriend was starting to shake and switched off the TV.

“It has been a very emotional couple of days,” he said. “I keep turning off the TV and radio.”

The Enterprise was not able to reach all the Mashpee runners listed on the Boston Marathon website. Mashpee residents Philip A. Davis, 42; Karen Shastany, 50; and Sandy Xenos, 61, are also listed as entrants in Monday’s race.

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