SANFORD – Sanford Superintendent of Schools David Theoharides finished the 2013 Boston Marathon Monday at a time of 3 hours and 38 minutes. Roughly a half-hour later, he was on the 10th floor of the Lenox Hotel overlooking Boylston Street when he heard two loud explosions.
Monday was Theoharides’ third Boston Marathon, and his seventh marathon overall. He traveled to Boston for the event in a bus with a running club out of Salisbury, Mass., known as the Winners Circle, which has about 25 members that live in the greater Sanford area, a few of whom were racing Monday.
“The scary thing was that I had ran by both bombs,” Theoharides said Wednesday. “They weren’t that far apart.”
A massive investigation is continuing in Boston after two bombs were set off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, where at least three people were killed and more than 170 injured.
Theoharides said both explosions occurred about the time people were finishing the race in around 4 hours and 9 minutes, but he and some fellow Winners Circle runners were enjoying post-race food and drinks when the blasts shook the hotel.
“I had just stepped out of the shower and got dressed when the first blast hit,” he said. “The whole room shook and we looked outside and could see smoke rising from the street below.”
Following the explosions, the hotel was put on lockdown, meaning no one could get in or out. However, Theoharides said, it wasn’t long before police started knocking on doors, telling people to evacuate the building.
“When we got out on the street, it was total insanity,” he said. “Ambulances and sirens like I’ve never heard before.”
Theoharides said he walked with his wife and daughter for about eight or nine blocks until they finally found their bus. One Winners Circle member finished one minute prior to the explosions and was in the process of receiving her medal past the finish line when the bombs went off.
“She said everyone just dove on the ground it was so loud,” Theoharides said. “She never even came to the hotel, she came right to the bus.”
He said another member was 0.2 miles away from the finish, and never got to cross the finish line.
Theoharides said that many of the runners from his group were still racing when the explosions occurred.
“We were scattered all over the place,” he said. “Some were behind, so they were still racing when the bombs went off.”
He said not only were they not able to finish, but also they were unable to get to their backpacks and cell phones because the entire area was locked down. He also said because of the chaos, they had to keep moving the bus, which made it more difficult for members to find them.
This led to a roughly four-hour period where Theoharides and the rest of his team waited for people to find the bus, not knowing where they were.
“Some of them said they tried getting back to the Lenox Hotel, but they had already evacuated, so they were wondering, looking for the bus somewhere,” he said.
According to Theoharides, people were simply trying to find other people with cell phones, and even using Facebook to attempt to contact people they knew. The last person found the bus around 7 p.m., and the bus returned to Salisbury around 8.
He said when he finally got to his cell phone, which was in his car in Salisbury, there were 18 messages on his phone from concerned friends and family.