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.