By Anne Calos
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — When Lockport native Carol Mayer Wallace was about a half mile away from the finish line at Monday’s Boston Marathon, she couldn’t figure why all the runners in front of her just stopped.
“I wasn’t close enough to hear (the explosion) — but I was less than a mile from the finish line — and all of a sudden, all of the runners in front of me stopped. I could see the road ahead of us, and there was nobody there. Nobody knew what was going on, but a runner next to me had a radio, and we heard the reports about the explosion at the finish line, and about all the blood and injuries,” Carol said.
The runners knew that their friends and family would be at the finish line waiting for them, so it was chaotic.
Carol, who also ran the Boston Marathon last year, knew where husband Braden Wallace, also a Lockport native, had waited for her at the last marathon, so she didn’t think he was near the explosion, but she wasn’t sure.
“Some of the runners had cell phones, so everyone started making calls, but then service was cut off,” Carol said.
Eventually, text service was restored, and Carol borrowed a phone. Since her husband isn’t able to receive text messages on his phone, she texted her daughter Anya, a student in North Carolina, who in turn, called her father to let him know her mom was OK.
Even so, it took more than two hours for the couple to find each other.
In the meantime, Carol said the marathoners, who had just completed more than 25 miles of their run, had to stay where they were.
“It was getting cold, and we didn’t have any jackets or blankets or water. Then, people started bringing down water, jackets, and even garbage bags and blankets to keep us warm, and everyone shared what they had. We had to stay where we were for a good 40 minutes,” Carol said.
“Most people were calm, but I saw several people in tears. But the people of Boston were incredible,” Carol said.
Braden, who was waiting at a corner near the finish line, heard the first blast, but like many people, didn’t realize it was a bomb.
But he was much closer to the second blast, and he said he thinks it was far more powerful than the first.
“When I heard the first blast, I thought, ‘What idiot is setting off something as a celebration in this day in age?’ But when the second went off, it was so much more concussive that the first one, everyone knew what it was. All of a sudden, police officers started heading toward the explosions, and a cavalcade of about 30 motorcycle police officers started pushing people aside and clearing out the whole section, and you could hear people screaming and see spectators running,” Braden said.
Braden was sure that his wife hadn’t passed him and crossed the finish line yet, so he knew she wasn’t near the explosions. Still — he was relieved when he got the call from his daughter, telling him where she was and that she was OK.
The Wallaces, who were still in Boston Tuesday morning, said that mood around the city is completely supportive. Carol said that at the beginning of the marathon, runners are allowed to drop off a bag with their things, and they can pick it up at the end of the race. Since the bags were kept overnight, she went back to get it — and her medal — Tuesday morning.
“Today when we went out to pick up my bag, there was security everywhere. There’s someone from the National Guard standing on top of a roof, right outside our hotel,” Carol said.
Although she won’t be running the Boston Marathon next year because of her qualifying time, she said this experience won’t deter her from running in other marathons. And she doesn’t think it will stop anyone else either.
“There’s a strong sense of commeradery among runners. Everyone did what they were told, and things went as well as they could have,” Carol said.
The Wallaces are both Lockport High School graduates. They currently live in Blythewood, S.C., a suburb of Columbia.