Salem High School principal describes a 'creepy and surreal' scene
SALEM - A run for a beloved nephew suffering from diabetes turned into something quite different for Salem High School principal Tracy Collyer Monday.
Collyer, 45, ran in this year's Boston Marathon to raise funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Her nephew, Patrick, suffers from Type 1 diabetes.
Collyer was the sole New Hampshire resident on the local charity branch's team of 19 runners to participate in this year's Boston Marathon.
Monday's race was the Derry resident's second marathon and a day she won't soon forget.
"It started out as such a great day," she said Tuesday. "But when I reached about 25 and a half miles, I noticed that the people in front of me had stopped running."
Up ahead, Collyer saw what could only be described as a "creepy and surreal" scene, where runners had come to a complete standstill, some of them sitting along the roadside.
"We soon heard people talking about an explosion, but I guess everyone's first thought was the race would start up again," Collyer said. "Because whoever heard of the Boston Marathon being canceled?"
Soon word spread through the crowd that such was, indeed, the case.
Collyer didn't bring her cellphone along for the race, and she quickly began to wonder where her family was.
A brother from Massachusetts who'd come along to run with her was nowhere in sight.
Hopping over a boundary and making her way toward the Marriot Hotel, which was the designated gathering spot for her teammates, Collyer started to panic.
A stranger walking nearby handed her a cellphone and informed her she'd need to send a text message as calls weren't going through.
"People were just so giving, so generous," she said.
Collyer's husband and son, who'd watched her run from their spot near Mile 16, were located safe and sound, as were all her fellow teammates.
She'd later learn that her brother had split off from the racecourse around Mile 23 and had boarded a bus that transported runners first to a nearby church, then to Boston Common where the entire family was eventually reunited.
Asked if she plans to run again next year, Collyer didn't hesitate to say yes.
"I ran in last year's scorching heat and this year, I came so close to the finish line. I just wanted to cross the line," she said. "I think you'll find that most of us would still do it all over again and if I can get a number again next year, I'll most definitely be there."