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Tracking Boston Marathon Runners Online

As a distance runner who was tracking the progress of many friends running in today’s Boston Marathon, I was personally shaken by the horrific news of explosions at the finish line that have claimed the lives of at least 3 people and injured at least 130 others (as of 10 PM Eastern time on 15 April 2013). Members of the Ithaca running community did a great job in contacting friends and family members who were competing in Boston and then sharing the information more broadly on our club mailing lists to spread the word — nearly all local runners have reported in unharmed.

If you want to check on someone who was associated with the race, Google has started a Person Finder for the catastrophe, though it contains only about 4,500 records right now. (For context, 23,326 people started, 17,584 finished, 4,496 made it to 40 kilometers but didn’t cross the finish line, and 1,246 never made it to 40K. And that doesn’t include families or spectators.)

Plus, the Boston Marathon Athlete Tracking page is still up, so you can figure out when people finished. So far, I’ve heard from people who finished between 2 hours and 43 minutes and 4 hours and 21 minutes, with the last guy saying that the explosions came only a few minutes after he finished. (Large races like Boston have multiple starts, so finishing time isn’t solid as a predictor of whether or not a runner might have moved past the finish line, but those finishing in under 4:21 would still be more likely to be safe.)

I hope this information helps provide some peace of mind, and while I’ve had a hard time concentrating enough to finish today’s issue of TidBITS, I do want to say that if there’s one trait that describes marathon runners, it’s that we don’t give up. I’ve heard reports of runners finishing the race and continuing to run straight to Massachusetts General Hospital to give blood. Stories like that make me proud to count so many runners among my friends.


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Comments about Tracking Boston Marathon Runners Online
(Comments are closed.)

Dennis B. Swaney  2013-04-16 07:36
Adam, according to the video that caught the first explosion going off, the race clock at the time was showing 4:09 elapsed time (IIRC, it was about 4:09:43).
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2013-04-16 09:10
Hmm, good to know, though as I said, it all depends on the wave starts, since my friend who ran 4:21 definitely finished before the explosions.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2013-04-16 14:51
From a friend who finished in 3:50 and was 2 blocks from the explosions, about the video:

"Much of the video being shown on the TV networks show a finish line clock at 4:09. That clock was showing the time from the start of wave 3. That would be 4:49 from the start of the elite men."

So it all depends on what wave someone was in - 4:21 was safe for wave 2, presumably, but 4:09 wasn't for wave 3.

It seems moot now, given that it sounds like essentially no runners were hurt badly, just the poor volunteers/spectators who were in the area.
Dennis B. Swaney  2013-04-16 16:08
OK, Thanks for clarifying it. The general media was obviously not very accurate in their news stories. The early reports had the Kennedy Library being bombed too; it wasn't.
John Beare  2013-04-16 08:19
Other than possible psychological effects, which can be profound, it is now, a day after the event, evident that none of the runners was seriously injured, thank goodness. Our thoughts should be with the spectators who suffered.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2013-04-16 09:18
With a little more perspective, and apart from the most significant impacts upon those who were killed or injured and their loved ones, what angers me the most is that the Boston Marathon is something that runners spend a year or more preparing for, and even for those people who had a great race and left before the explosions, the whole experience can't help but be tainted.

When I ran New York in 2008, it was the culmination of thousands of miles of running and four months of thinking about the race every day. And while I don't think back to New York every day any more, it is a memory I return to regularly, and in this case, it's a good one.

It was bad enough for the running community to have the New York Marathon cancelled in 2012 by the hurricane - at least that was an act of nature that dashed everyone's hopes and dreams - but I feel terrible that some person or people did this to tens of thousands of runners at Boston.
Sympathy and best wishes from Somerset, England.