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Local group just misses explosions at Boston Marathon

Published: Monday, April 15, 2013 7:45 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 8:01 a.m. CDT

(Continued from Page 2)

BOSTON — Morris resident Rick Dudley actually had a number on. His friend, Javier Martinez of Minooka, did too. Dudley’s wife, Jennifer Jones, however, did not. Yet all three were running on Monday afternoon in Boston.

Monday was Patriots’ Day there and Dudley was running in the Boston Marathon for the first time. His official time of finish to complete the course was four hours, two minutes.

Had Dudley’s trick knee flared up any further, resulting in a little later finish, any one of them could have been among the many people victimized by explosions that rocked that immediate area.

“It’s sad and unfortunate that this is how this year’s Marathon is going to be remembered,” Dudley said in a phone interview late Monday afternoon. “It was a great experience up until then.”

Two explosions on the 26.2-mile course were about 100 yards apart, coming just minutes after Dudley finished. One was at the finish line itself and the other blocks further up Boyleston Street. The blasts came about 12 seconds apart and about an hour after Dudley stopped running.

“It took about a half hour to 45 minutes to get through the crowd at the finish line,” Dudley said about his finish. “After that, I came back to our hotel room.”

Rick and Jennifer were staying at the Boston Commons Hotel, which is two blocks south of Copley Square — the sight of the explosions where three people were killed and another 140-plus wounded. Dudley, Jones, Martinez and Rick’s father, Bill, were all in close proximity of the blasts, though all had separated minutes before.

“I got to the hotel about 5 or 10 minutes before the explosions,” Dudley said.

Dudley had gotten to the Boston Commons Hotel ahead of Jones by minutes. Both Jones and Bill had waited for Rick at Mile 21 of the course. After cheering on Rick, Bill stopped to eat lunch and then went on to his hotel room farther away from the sight. Meanwhile, Jones did her best to get back to the hotel ahead of her husband.

“I was intending to go back at a leisurely pace, but then I couldn’t get on public transportation,” Jones said. “I started running back to the hotel room because I had the room key and didn’t want to leave Rick waiting.”

While Jones was not an official entrant to the Boston Marathon, it’s a pretty good thing she felt a sense of urgency to get back to the hotel where they were staying. Especially since she crossed Boylston Street at Herendon — very near the sight of the second explosion — which happened a mere minutes after she crossed the intersection.

“It’s kind of scary. Luckily I was running and speed-walking to get back,” Jones said.

“If I had been a little slower … I was pretty close to where the second explosion was.”

Jones and Dudley were reunited at the Boston Commons Hotel, where they knew their friend, Javier, was on his way to meet up with them. Javier had finished the Marathon a half hour ahead of Dudley and needed a little extra time to change clothes.

“We knew he was going to be coming to our hotel room, to stop by and say hello,” Rick Dudley said. “He was in a changing tent along the course when he heard the explosions.”

Neither Jennifer nor Rick heard the explosions, which is why it came as a surprise to them when Martinez showed up at the Boston Commons Hotel with news of the catastrophe about 10 minutes later. Jones went down to meet Martinez in the lobby and that’s when Jones found out about what was going on.

“At that point, things were calm. I didn’t know anything had happened,” Jones said. “He (Martinez) told me about what was happening on the way back up to the room. There we turned the TV on to one of the local news channels.”

“Javier’s a pretty calm guy, but he said that we needed to turn on the TV when he got up to our room,” Rick said. “Luckily he got to our hotel before the lockdown.”

With sirens wailing constantly in the air, the group texted Bill to make sure he was O.K.

“Yeah, he’s fine,” Jones said. “He’s actually going to go out to dinner tonight (Monday), though we’re not so bold. I think we’re going to stay in and eat granola bars and bananas tonight.”

Back in Morris, Jennnifer’s dad, Gil Jones, was frantically trying to find out how the local contingent was.

“I sent them a text message asking ‘are you all O.K.?’,” Gill Jones said. “About a half hour later, we got a response, a single word — YES.”

Cell phone signals were spotty for obvious and various reasons, so Dudley went to use the computer in the room to let people know they were fine.

“I went to update my Facebook page and it was blowing up,” he said. “I posted there that we were safe and fine.” Approximately three hours later, Martinez exited Boston Commons Hotel, leaving Rick and Jennifer to reflect on what had happened — and what could have happened.

“It’s sad to me because it’s going to be hard not to think about what happened here at the finish line,” Dudley said. “It’s going to be hard to remember how much fun it was leading up to how things turned out.”

Much worse had his knee acted up worse than it did and slowed him down by another hour.

“I was on a pretty good pace at the beginning. I was flying. I was on pace to finish in 3:06 at one point,” Dudley said. “But then my knee acted up. I had a previous knee injury and that flared up and I ended up running a 4:02.

“While I was disappointed, my goal was to finish and I did. Thank goodness I was able to do that before anything happened.”

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