Ed Donohue was about to finish his 34th consecutive Boston Marathon, with a respectable time for a 73-year-old on gimpy knees.
And then his daughter Carolyn, tracking Monday’s race via her smartphone back in Chicago, stopped receiving automated Tweets from the last checkpoint in Boston.
“Dad stopped?” Carolyn asked her brother Eddie, in Whippany, NJ.
Then came news that two bombs had detonated near the finish line, followed by the longest two hours in the siblings’ lives.
When they finally connected with their father by phone, Ed Donohue recounted how he had rounded the final turn with the finish line in sight when he heard a bang and saw smoke and chaos.
“He said it was surreal, like a war zone,” said his son Eddie, who probably would have been cheering near the finish line with his two children at the fateful moment if not for business commitments in Jersey.
With nearly 26 grueling miles behind him, Ed Donohue, a retiree from an Atlanta suburb, and his wife added extra mileage by making a beeline to Cambridge and a friend’s car.
They left behind suitcases and Ed’s dog-earred gym bag–a good luck charm since 1980– at Boston’s Copley Plaza hotel.
The extended silence was excruciating for Eddie, who looked for his dad amidst the carnage on TV. Early reports said at least two people were killed and scores more were injured by the blasts.
“It’s not a good feeling,” said Eddie, 48, who jogs with the Morristown Running Company.
‘NOTHING’S SAFE AND SACRED’
Heather McDermott of the running store said quite a few customers and about a half-dozen regulars from her bi-weekly Morristown runs competed in Boston. All of them finished well ahead of the explosions and were unharmed, she said.
Heather, who also co-organizes the Super Hero Half Marathon, said the tragedy would not dissuade her from running in future races.
“It’s a horrible, horrible thing,” she said. “But it could happen at any major event, anywhere.”
Eddie Donohue said he was praying for the victims, and mourning a lifetime of fond memories at the Boston Marathon.
“It was like a pilgrimage. Every winter Dad starts training. Usually carloads of us would go up…There’s nothing safe and sacred anymore,” he said.
Eddie had to stay home this time to attend a Sunday planning session for the Long Branch Marathon. It might have saved his life, and the lives of his kids, Katie, 13, and Patrick, 10.
Just hours before Monday’s explosions in Boston, Eddie met with Newark officials to pitch a road race through the Newark Watershed.
The officials said no thanks–they were concerned about terrorism.
“I was saying, ‘What are the odds of that?’” Eddie said.
If you’re one of those people who feels pangs about all that beer and guacamole on Super Bowl Sunday, Chris Russo has a sure-fire remedy.
It’s called the Super Sunday 4 Miler, a Morristown road race on Feb. 5.
“Everyone feels guilty about going to house parties with their Doritos and beer. Now, you can also get some exercise,” said Chris, who doubles as co-director of the Superhero Half Marathon, which celebrates its third year this spring.
The Super Sunday 4 Miler will start at 11:30 am on Maple Avenue and meander through Morris Township, returning to a bar on DeHart Street featuring…beer!
Barring any wrong turns, you should be at your barstool hours before the Giants square off against the Patriots.
Registration is $30 ($35 on race day). The first 500 runners receive long-sleeved, wicking tech shirts. Prizes will be awarded in several categories, and runners can earn 500 race points from USA Track & Field. A special Polar Bear prize awaits the entrant wearing the least clothing. (Sorry, no nudity.)
If Chris, 32, looks familiar, there are several reasons.
All My Children, the late TV soap opera, is one of them. Okay, maybe it’s a stretch to call Chris a star…. he appeared a handful of times, portraying a waiter at a yacht club. Buy hey, that’s pretty cool.
“I had my own dressing room,” the Cedar Knolls native said with a grin.
Before the Green Thumb, Chris dabbled in Little Green Men. His UFO hoax made headlines and landed the Morris Plains resident and a co-conspirator in municipal court.
Chris also tried some modeling after his days at Gettysburg College, where he was a sprinter and long jumper on the track team. He did fashion shoots for Playboy and appeared in Wired layouts.
MODEL RUNNER: Please click icon below for captions
“He is outgoing, with a lot of charm and charisma,” said his partner at Superhero Events LLC, Heather Gardiner, 33, of the Morristown Running Company on South Street. “I do more of the behind-the-scenes stuff… we complement each other well.”
The 4 Miler is a tad longer than standard 5K races–just long enough for casual runners to burn off some serious calories before the big kickoff, according to Chris and Heather, who met on a Running Company group jog.
They will serve as race directors for the Randolph triathlon later this year. And their Superhero Half Marathon on May 20 could be one for the record books: They aim to cram more caped crusaders onto Ginty Field in Morris Township than have been assembled anywhere before. The movie Megamind set the mark with more than 1,500 superheroes in one place, said Chris, who sells pharmaceuticals for Pfizer in between racing gigs.
Superheroes do good deeds, of course, and Chris and Heather have performed a few by now. Their half-marathons have raised more than $12,000 for charity. This spring’s race will benefit the local Meals on Wheels program and the American Cancer Society, Chris said.
Heroic efforts will be made to complete next month’s 4 Miler regardless of wintry weather. If local police decide conditions are unsafe, however, runners’ fees will be applied towards next year’s event.