Glastonbury Runners Among Those At Boston Marathon

Seven town residents participated in the Boston Marathon Monday, including two who said they completed the race shortly before twin explosions went off near the finish line.

"I think for people who aren’t runners, they don’t necessarily understand what the Boston Marathon means. But for people who run, this is the mecca of all running," said Stephen Dorrough, 46. "This is the premier event to showcase your dedication, your talent, it’s a big deal and it’s difficult to qualify for, it’s not something that anyone can just do."

419 runners from Connecticut registered for Monday's race, according to the Boston Athletic Association, including the seven from Glastonbury.

Dorrough said he trained for three years and competed in five qualifying marathons before finally earning a spot in Boston. His chances at seriously competing were dashed by a stress fracture in his ankle which had not fully healed by race day, but Dorrough said he was just happy to be in the field of runners.

"I finished the race in a little over four hours, four 'oh one, and in some respects that's an embarrassingly slow time," Dorrough said. "The goal was not to finish the race quickly, the bigger goal was to get there."

Dorrough said competing in the Boston Marathon was a passion he shared with a brother in Oregon, and preparing for the race kept them close despite the geographic distance between them. The brothers would connect online to share training and nutrition tips and compare strategies, and run together whenever possible.

His work requires a lot of international travel, Dorrough said, making it difficult to squeeze in his training routine of 70 miles per week. He once jogged 16 miles in the parking lot of O'Hare Airport in Chicago when a flight was delayed, has trained in dangerous regions of South Africa, and ran in 100 degree weather in China.

"It was a big deal to get here," Dorrough said. "You're following in the path of all the great runners. This is where they go, this is where they compete."

On the day of the race, Dorrough said his wife Kit and three of his children, ages 16, 13, and 11, were waiting for him near the finish line along with his sister-in-law, nephew and niece. His brother had finished the race about an hour earlier and left the area, and his fourth child is in college and did not travel to Boston, Dorrough said.

He had just crossed the finish line, picked up his medal for participating in the race, and was headed to retrieve his wallet, cell phone, and other personal items when he heard a blast from about 200 yards away.

"You turn around and look at it and think, wow, that is not right," Dorrough said. "Moments later there was a second blast a little bit further away. I think what was scarier about the second blast is I realized that was where my family had been waiting for me."

Dorrough said his family had moved away from the area shortly before the explosion, and he was able to call his son and make sure everyone was safe, though he was so tired he had difficulty dialing.

"You're body's just beat up, mentally you're exhausted, emotionally you're exhausted," Dorrough said. "Had this not happened it still is a very emotional day, because it's just kind of the culmination of three years of work to get here."

Dorrough said no one in his group was injured and they were far enough away from the explosions that they were spared having to witness the gory aftermath.

"I could see smoke, and I think that's mostly what I saw, smoke. It seemed to go up a couple stories," Dorrough said.

He and his family found each other and made their way to the Marriott hotel in Copley Square where Dorrough's brother had a room, and were eventually allowed to return to their car at a nearby parking garage and returned home to Glastonbury around midnight.

His brother's room on the 22nd floor of the Marriott offered Dorrough a bird's-eye view of emergency workers rushing to the scene, "which was phenomenal," he said. "That was surprising to me, given how many people were down there watching... that they were able to get that area cleared out and get all those emergency vehicles in."

While he's been considering retiring from marathoning because of the time commitment and physical toll, Donnough said that Monday's bombings, "will not change the way I approach participating in events like this."

But, he added, "on the one hand you look at it and say, 'this was supposed to be a day that I could remember as having accomplished a goal that's very difficult to achieve.' But walking from the hotel at nine at night, thoughts of marathoning and you know, middle-age glory, really were not important at all. You realize that there's things in life that are much more important than some of these goals that we set for ourselves."

Another Glastonbury runner who participated Monday said he's grateful to have gotten home unscathed, and would like to help those who were not as fortunate.