If Surrey’s Dr. Ray Baker had completed his estimated time of four hours in the Boston Marathon, he says he would have been blown up.
Baker was one of several runners from Surrey who crossed the finish line Monday, minutes before two explosions rocked the area, killing at least three people and injuring more than 100.
Baker said he expected to cross the line at four hours, which would have put him near the blast when the explosives went off.
But a pair of strong legs pounded him through the race in 3:52, putting the explosion about eight minutes behind him.
According to initial reports, the explosions occurred at the 4:09:40 mark of the race, just before noon Pacific time.
“I was in that cluster at the end, and the explosion looked like it was about 100 metres from the finish line,” Baker told The Leader Monday.
He said people looked about with concern, and a second explosion came about 20 seconds later, and gradually hysteria spread.
Baker said the paramedic response was “massive and immediate.”
South Surrey lawyer Alan Benson, 60, had finished the race and was about six blocks away when the unimaginable happened.
“All of a sudden we heard this massive explosion. I could see this huge ball of smoke where the finish line is,” Benson said.
“I just can’t believe, I can’t believe I saw what I saw when I looked down Boylston Avenue. It was big, it was loud and it was frightening. Everyone immediately thought, is this some kind of bomb? It looked like something out of the Middle East or something like that.”
He described what followed the explosions as “pandemonium everywhere,” as emergency crews made their way to the scene.
The 2013 Boston Marathon database notes 241 of the nearly 27,000 race competitors hail from B.C. Of those, 17 list Surrey and four list Delta as their hometowns.
One of the registered runners from Ladner, 53-year-old Diana Traher, did not make the trip to Boston after coming down with a cold, according to her workplace. Traher is a Grade 3 teacher at White Rock Elementary.
Pargol Lakhan, 31, from Delta, is also safe and sound. According to Dionne Phillips, an administrative assistant at Hudson Out Of School Care in Vancouver where Lakhan is executive director, she crossed the finish line just before the explosions.
The status of two other Delta runners registered for the race is as of yet unknown. They are listed as Celina Coombs and Ashley McKerrow.
Baker said the group of Surrey runners he was with were all safe.
Other Surrey participants are listed as Kenneth Clasby, Denis Cormier, Marc Fontaine, Megan Fretter, Darbara Singh Ghuman, Ian Herron, David Hobbs, Susan Hobbs, Dee Makepeace, James Millington, Martin Schwuchow, Marlene Scott Yee Fung, Sabina Tolean, Sally Wong and Tanya Zarin.
Along with Baker and Benson, Millington, Makepeace and Wong escaped uninjured. The status of the other Surrey runners is not yet known.
TO FIND OUT MORE:
• If you are concerned for a friend or family member who ran the Boston Marathon today, you can see their last check-in here: raceday.baa.org/individual.html.
• Google has a people finder: http://google.org/personfinder/2013-boston-explosions.
• Marathon runners who are safe and families looking for loved ones can visit the Red Cross: http://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php.
• If you are looking for missing persons related to the explosions, call the Mayor’s Missing Person’s hotline at 1-617-635-4500.
– with files from Tracy Holmes and Neil Corbett