Hawaii runners describe impact of Boston Marathon attack
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
There were 57 people from Hawaii signed up to run the Boston Marathon. They are all said to be safe, although still in disbelief.
The pictures from before the race show plenty of smiles. They expected it to be grueling but not tragic.
"I had put my arm around her and was pushing her as fast as she could possibly walk and she was screaming and I said we got to go, we got to go, we got to go," said Dennis Kurtis, witness and Honolulu Marathon contractor. "She took maybe five steps across the finish line and heard the explosions."
Kurtis works on the Honolulu Marathon. He was in Boston watching his girlfriend Maria Gongoro run who finished just 20 seconds ahead of the explosion.
"I was trying to scoot my girlfriend Maria along and people just hit panic mode and were trampling over the barriers and running people down. It was just a mass herd of people running as far away from the finish line as they could," said Kurtis.
Keep in mind many of the race participants were already spent after running the full 26.2 miles and then had to run for the lives fearing the worst after the explosions.
"We kept saying if you were 20 seconds slower you would have been in that. She said I know I know. She is religious and praising God. And praying for the people who were injured," said Kurtis. "I'm still shaking, I'm still in just shock."
Johnny Landeza is in Boston and documented the log jam of ambulances and emergency vehicles on video.
"It's really crazy I heard the two bombs go off as I was changing my clothes right after finishing the marathon. You just see chaos everywhere and sirens going every direction," said Johnny Landeza, Schofield Barracks Training Instructor.
Among the other runners from Hawaii are Punahou Athletics Director Jeaney Garcia and Punahou chemistry teacher and coach Katie O'Neill, University of Hawaii Nursing Professor Angela Sy, Efraim Manzano, Jennifer Tom, Angela Kwong, Emi Akutsu, Dwayne Chang, Karen Dixon, Michael Kasamoto, Colin Miwa, Emmie Saigusa and Christopher Smith, all of whom were not hurt. For the full list of Hawaii participants in the Boston Marathon click here.
"Some of the Hawaii people that got through they had already finished and but were walking around within a half mile of the area and heard big sounds going off and everything came to a standstill," said Jonathan Lyau, who coached eight of the Hawaii runner. "For them it was an eerie feeling not knowing what was going on."
"One message I did get through is to please let the media know the Hawaii people are okay," continued Lyau.
Some of the Hawaii folks planned to leave Tuesday, but aren't sure if they will be able to return as scheduled.
The attack is expected to change security procedures at future races including the Honolulu Marathon.
After the 9/11 attacks the Honolulu Marathon established a no fly zone overhead during the race. Now after Boston security will again be examined.
The images from Boston are frightening especially for those who were there.
"Blood on the street, the smoke was still billowing in the air. People congregating around obviously fallen victims," said Toni Reavis, who was the race commentator in Boston, like he does in Honolulu.
Reavis said the attack caused instant chaos and wonders if a bomb placed in a public walkway could have been avoided.
"How do you police, how do you lockdown 26.2 miles? How do you do that? It seems to me that it is impossible to do," said Reavis.
"I think it has potential to change not only other marathons including the Honolulu Marathon but all public events," said Dr. Jim Barahal, Honolulu Marathon President & CEO.
Honolulu Marathon President Jim Barahal says security will be reviewed. The Honolulu race already uses 430 police officers and sets up a restricted perimeter around the start and finish which has been threatened before by drunk drivers and once by a threat to blow up porta potties.
"I think it's next to impossible to put on a big on a big public event of this magnitude and secure every possible site. I think it's impossible," said Dr. Barahal.
That said they'll take the steps to secure the race to make the tens of thousands of people running and watching feel safe. Those in the marathon community don't want participation to fall.
"All that separates us whether its culture, religion, politics, the sport of distance running transcends all such differences and links us in our common humanity, that's what makes it special. That's why an incident like this happening in such an event makes it even more unspeakable," said Reavis.
As the Boston attacks have taught us a safe finish is more important than a fast finish.