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Local marathoners shaken by bombings

Scores of Granite State runners and supporters were at the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, including some who were a matter of steps from explosions that killed at least three, maimed dozens and cast a pall over the celebrated New England tradition.

There were four Goffstown people registered to run in the Marathon: Stephanie Burnham, Kristen C. King, Joseph P. Melim and Tara L. Proulx.

Goffstown runner OK

Eric Proulx of Goffstown was there to watch his wife run the marathon. He said his girls and he were positioned between both explosions prior to the events.

The “explosions were loud and the ground shook,” he said. “We were about two or three blocks away, but my wife was a block-and-a-half away and she saw the smoke. It was chaos near the scene but not very noticeable the further you walked away from the area. Sirens galore and hovering helicopters were immediately o n the scene and we witnessed business folks running away from the scene barefoot/without shoes.

“Cell service went to a standstill and there was a lot of uncertainty for a while since it was hearsay until you saw social/media network updates/alerts,” he said. “It’s a very sad day – a day that will not be remembered for someone’s accomplishments. It’s a senseless act and out hearts are heavy tonight.”

Saint Anselm presence

More than 120 students and faculty from Saint Anselm College participated in the race, as runners or spectators, and all of the students were accounted for.

The college held a candlelight vigil on its campus that night in response to the event.

Candia man witnessed

“I could see shrapnel and all sorts of explosive residue going across the street,” said Ken Madden, a Candia resident who had just turned onto Boylston Street in downtown Boston when the first explosion went off.

Madden said he thought the first explosion was a ceremonial cannon, but then a few moments later, the second blast went off in front of him.

“I saw several people very close to me blown off their feet. Then, shortly after, a spectator came up the street with his clothes all ripped and covered in blood,” he said.

At this point, police stopped Madden and the other runners and quickly worked to clear the street.

Madden was among a dozen runners with the Manchester Athletic Alliance Running Club who had been training for the race for months and made the trip to Boston together.

Goffstown students safe

A group of 270 students and 70 adult chaperones from Mountain View Middle School were on a field trip in Boston when the explosions went off, prompting school officials in Goffstown to go into “emergency mode,” said Assistant Superintendent Brian Balke. Balke said phone calls between school district staff and chaperones in the city flew back and forth.

“Our kids were at different locations in the city,” Balke said, adding that he was able to communicate with a police lieutenant in Charlestown, who assisted him in organizing a gathering spot. “We identified a location down by the U.S.S. Constitution at the Charlestown Navy Yard.

“We managed to bring all our kids back,” Balke told members of the School Board that night. “All our kids are accounted for.”

The school administration kept parents informed through the use of Power Announcement, a messaging software.

“It was a coordinated effort; everybody worked hard,” Balke said. “It was a very frightening day, to say the least.”

Counselors and the school psychologist will be available today, Balke said, “for any kids that need to process the events of the day.”

Hooksett men cross finish before explosions

Hooksett resident and Boston Marathon runner Jeff Silver had finished the race and was getting ready to drive home when he came across the hellish scene at the Bolyston Street finish-line he had crossed not long before.

“We turned onto Boylston, and there were police and ambulances everywhere,” said Silver. “It was like all hell broke loose.

Silver only figured out what happened when he questioned another driver caught in the traffic.

“He said it was a couple of explosions, and we were like ‘Oh my god,’” said Silver.

Silver checked in with all of the runners in his running club, and stated that they were all fine. One of the club’s runners who was a spectator at the marathon did get hit, according to Silver, but she’s “recovering and she’s going to be fine.”

Ed Ithier of Hooksett said he finished the race about 10 or 15 minutes prior to the explosions.

“I was with a bunch of my running partners at the Four Seasons. Once everything happened and all the craziness occurred, it was locked down in terms of areas they shut off. They did a great job.”

Denise Spenard, was one of the members of his running club, was hurt by shrapnel. She was a spectator at the event.

“It’s so surreal,” said Ithier. “For me, just the chaos, the chaos that was occuring, the people being affected. I will also remember all the people that stepped up to help. From medical people to runners, everyone trying to do what they could.”

Ithier won’t let the bombing stop him from running in the future, though.

“You can’t live life in fear,” he said. “If you give in, whoever’s responsible is going to win. You have to live life. I think people will embrace (the marathon) even more. It was unfortunate that this tragedy overshadows all the good that comes out of Boston.”

On alert at State House

The New Hampshire State Police have increased their presence in and around the State House and adjacent buildings in Concord.

“In response to the incident at the Boston Marathon earlier today as well as an anonymous threat that was called in over the weekend directed toward the area of the State House, the Explosive Disposal Unit has completed a search of the area for any suspicious articles and nothing was found,” state police said the night of the explosions.

There is no reason to believe the threat is connected to the Boston explosions, police said.

– New Hampshire Union Leader correspondents Jason Schreiber, Henry Metz, Kim Houghton and Dan Seufert, and staff writers Doug Alden and Kevin Gray contributed to this report, along with Ginger Kozlowski.

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