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April 16. 2013 10:36PM

Wife's doubt about husband's endurance saved young children from finish line horror

WOLFEBORO - Local resident Zach Tarter had run marathons before, but never in Boston.

Tarter, 36, who lives with his wife and two young daughters, aged 6 and 4, in Wolfeboro, ran his first Boston Marathon on Monday, but it likely will not be his last. Tarter was about at mile 24 or 25 when police diverted him and other runners after two bombs exploded close to the marathon finish line. He didn't hear the explosions as he was listening to music on headphones, and did not see the blast or those who had been killed, maimed or injured.

In an interview Tuesday evening, Tarter said his family had VIP passes to greet him as he crossed the finish line, but when they saw him at mile 17, his wife decided to check on him farther down the route.

"When they saw me at mile 17, I looked so terrible that rather than them hopping onto the T (MBTA) they decided to make change and go to mile 22," he said.

That last minute decision meant that his wife and daughters were spared from the mayhem that occurred at the finish line where a young boy, and two adults were killed and others received life-threatening injuries.

Tarter described the scene were he was as frantic.

"There were people crying on the sidelines, talking to policemen and National Guardsmen, police cars. Just a mass of confusion," he said. His cellular phone went "crazy" with family and friends checking on his well-being. He said officials directed runners to a makeshift tent area, a holding area, and that his wife heard about the meeting area and met Zach there with the kids in tow.

"It was a frantic scene. I have to give the city and police all the credit. They took a logistical nightmare and made it comfortable, made sure you knew who was boss."

Tarter said race officials made counselors available to runners later that day and that runners' personal belongings stored in yellow bags were brought to a site about four blocks away for pickup.

His children were told there was a fire at a downtown hotel, and that's it for now. "I think that when they are older we can talk about what happened, but at this point there are enough boogie men out there."

Asked how he feels, besides being sunburned and physically fatigued after the race, Tarter said he feels lucky.

"Just incredibly fortunate on one hand, and incredibly disgusted (over the bombings) and heartbroken for families who just wanted to go to the finish line and watch their loved ones cross." Tarter is a financial advisor with Edward Jones« office in Wolfeboro.

lmulkern@newstote.com

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