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Local runners safe after Boston Marathon explosions

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: CHASE ALLGOOD - Forest Grove mother-son duo Elena Parker and Grayson Penfield ran in this year's Boston Marathon. Neither was injured in the bomb blasts.A handful of Oregon runners were reported safe Monday afternoon after two explosions rocked the Boston Marathon finish line.

Three people — including an 8-year-old boy — were killed and more than 100 were injured in the explosions that happened at about 2:45 p.m. Boston time (about 11:45 a.m. Pacific time).

About 350 Oregonians were among the more than 27,000 runners who raced in the annual Boston Marathon. They included former University of Oregon track star Kara Goucher, who finished in the Elite Division more than two hours before the explosion.

Forest Grove marathon runner Elena Parker, 55, finished at about 2:27 p.m. and escaped injury. Her son, Grayson Penfield, 21, a junior at the University of Portland, finished his race at about 1:24 p.m. He also was not injured.

West Linn-Wilsonville School Superintendent Bill Rhoades, 56, finished the race at about 2:36 p.m. and was reported safe after the explosion.

Click here to listen to a KPAM 860 interview with Dave Harkin, owner of the Portland Running Company, who was in Boston for the marathon.

Cornelius resident James Deorup, 64, crossed the finish line at about 2:37 p.m. He was 9,613rd for all males and 351st in his age division (60-64).

Kate Phillips, 24, a former AmeriCorps member with the Forest Grove Community School and a resident of Indianapolis, hit the tape about 1:27 p.m. She was in 237th place for all women and 207th in her 18-39 age division.

Penfield and Parker are the veterans of several marathons apiece and both have qualified for previous editions of Boston but have yet to run it.

Parker said Monday started out in fine fashion for Boston Marathon participants from Washington County.

“It was an amazing experience — there were people cheering the whole way,” Parker said. “It gave me goosebumps.”

Then, four hours into the race, two explosions near the finish line created mayhem.

After she finished, Parker was shuttled away from the finish chute and was two blocks away when she heard the first blast.

“I was standing in line to get my clothing bag back off my bus and I heard this big ‘bang!’ ” Parker said. “Then there was another explosion, and I saw the smoke. I knew right away something bad had happened.”

After running 26.2 miles, Parker said she was “in a daze” but aware that emergency responders were speeding toward the marathon finish.

“I’ve never seen so many ambulances in my life,” she said. “Sirens were going off non-stop. There were helicopters overhead.”

Neither Parker nor Penfield were aware at that point that several dozen people had been injured and that two were reportedly dead. But they knew they would not be going to any of the events planned for the finishers of America’s most famous marathon.

“Everything’s been canceled. They were going to have a big party and an awards ceremony,” Parker said.

Recognizing it would be fruitless to try to catch a cab out of the downtown area, the pair walked across the Massachusetts Bridge to their hotel in Cambridge. They saw multiple text messages and voicemails from worried family and friends back home, but they were unable to call out until nearly 5:30 p.m. East Coast time.

“All the phone lines were jammed,” said Parker. “It was pretty surreal.”

Penfield and Parker are due to fly back to Portland Tuesday evening.

Karen Ylitalo Gill, 42, of Warren, had finished her race at about 2:09 p.m. and was about a block from the finish line when she heard the explosions.

“It feels like 9/11 here,” Gill said. “They were loud and the kind you just knew were not good.”

by: COURTESY OF MICHELLE LAVINE - Sherwood runner Michelle LaVine told worried friends and family members via text message 'Im safe,' following the Boston Marathon explosions.Sherwood runner Michelle LaVine told worried friends and family members via text message “Im safe,” following the explosions.

LaVine, a Sherwood resident since 1998, was at Mile 20 when one of the explosions occurred and was unable to finish the race.

LaVine entered the event after she fund-raised thousands of dollars as part of the Dana-Arber Marathon Challenge Team.

She was running in memory of her friend and colleague David Pickens, who died in June 2012 from kidney cancer.

LaVine is an administrative assistant at Capital One Financial in Tigard.

Bomb scene was 'surreal'

West Linn resident Dave Harkin, didn’t see the explosions, but he certainly heard them.

Harkin, who owns the Portland Running Company, and his wife, Paula, were sitting in their room at the Lenox Hotel about 90 minutes after Dave Harkin had finished running when they heard the first explosion. The building rattled and it was immediately apparent that something major had happened. They ran to the window just as a second explosion went off right below their room at the intersection of Exeter and Boylston streets.

“Our initial reaction, my wife’s especially, was to immediately get out of the building,” Dave Harkin told KPAM anchor Diana Jordan. “We weren’t actually allowed to do that; we got to the lobby and were turned around. We got back up to the room, and we saw two very major casualties right out in the middle of the intersection where the second explosion happened.”

The scene, as Harkin recalled, was “surreal.” People were running away from the blast area while emergency workers rushed in to treat the casualties. As Harkin put it, the scene had turned from “a sense of celebration to a panicked, very high intensity situation.”

Harkin couldn’t speak to the condition of the two casualties he saw outside the window, other than that “it didn’t look good at all — it looked like they were very seriously injured.”

“Within minutes,” Harkin said, “everything was sirens and emergency vehicles … civilians running one way, and EMTs and emergency personnel running the other way to try to get a handle on what had happened and what was possibly going to continue to happen.”

That lingering sense of uncertainty left the Harkins feeling scared and confused. They were also worried about friends and associates who were running in the marathon, and as of yet unaccounted for.

When the hotel was eventually evacuated, the Harkins were told only to “turn right and keep going.” They walked about 10 blocks until they reached a residential area and sat down in front of a row house. As they contemplated what to do next, a man approached and introduced himself as Larry.

“He kind of came up and asked us how we were doing,” Harkin said. “Within minutes, he said, ‘Why don’t you come in my place, at least get off the street for a little bit.”

It was from there that Harkin spoke to Jordan on Monday afternoon, looking out the window and still trying to wrap his head around what happened. By that point, the Harkins had contacted their friends and determined everyone to be fine.

“We had one friend who finished at 3 hours 50 minutes, and I think it was reported that the bombs went off at 4:10, 4:12,” Harkin said. “So that’s as close as anyone would ever want to be to anything like that.”

Amidst the chaos, with scores of people still walking through the streets in all directions, Harkin tried to put the events in perspective.

“We just came and ran and were luckily outside of the rest of it,” Harkin said. “It’s a great tragedy, it’s very devastating.”

Reporters Nancy Townsley, Ray Pitz, Lori Hall, Patrick Malee, Diana Jordan of KPAM 860, Daryl Swan and Kevin Harden contributed to this news report.