Local man finishes marathon moments before explosion

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Palmer Lake resident Doug Laufer crossed the finish line and a minute later heard the explosion.

Laufer had just completed his seventh Boston Marathon and said he was getting a bottle of water and collecting his medal when the bombs went off. He was approximately 200 yards away from the blast.

“I did not see the carnage directly but I was not far removed from it. I heard the blasts and saw the smoke. I felt the confusion as we were herded towards the finish area exit,” Laufer said. “The volunteers did an awesome job. No one really knew what happened at that point.”

At approximately 2:50 p.m. on April 15 two bombs went off as runners made their way down Boylston Street to the finish line. The blasts injured 176 people, many critically, and killed eight-year-old Martin Richard, 29-year-old Krystle Campbell both of Massachusetts and 23-year-old Boston University graduate student Lingza Lu, from China. All three were there to cheer family or friends on.

Thousands go out to cheer the runners on. The marathon takes place on Patriot's Day, always the third Monday in Massachusetts.

“The city of Boston, they really take a lot of pride in it. It's a special day. The city really focuses on the event. I felt a loss of joy and end of celebration. It was all surreal and very, very sad,” Laufer said. “For runners it's the pinnacle of running.”

Monument Trustee Becki Tooley has never been to the Boston Marathon but is an avid runner and knows how important the event is. She will be competing in her first marathon in May.

“There's no booing in running. It's a wonderful sport whether you're fast or slow. It's the only sport where everyone is extremely supportive of each other. It's inclusive. There's that freedom aspect about it,” Tooley said.

Laufer didn't have any family or friends attend this marathon and said in hindsight he's glad. He knew many of the other runners though. More than 500 runners from Colorado ran in the marathon and the Boston Marathon website listed three from Monument. According to the United States Air Force Academy there were nine personnel from the academy running in the marathon and that number includes four cadets. The personnel were all accounted for within four hours of the bombing.

Laufer said more than 5,000 runners didn't finish the marathon. It ended after the bombs went off and runners had to make their way from wherever they were staying and some were taken off the route by bus. He doesn't know if the Boston Athletic Association will do anything for those runners that didn't finish but he imagines they will.

“Hopefully we'll not let the bad guys win and we'll continue to pursue our passion. I think next year in Boston the turnout will be bigger than ever.”

On April 18 the FBI released photos of two men suspected of the bombing attack. One of the suspects had set a black bag down and ran moments before the bombs went off. Later that night the two suspects were identified as brothers Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, known as suspect two and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, known as suspect one. The brothers, originally from Chechnya, robbed a convenience store in Cambridge, Mass. later that night and then shot and killed a Massachussettes Institute of Technology police officer.

The older brother was killed in a shootout with police but the younger brother fled.  A massive manhunt was underway Friday, shutting the whole city of Boston down. The second suspect in the bombings was taken into custody Friday night, bringing to an end a massive manhunt.

Boston police tweeted: "CAPTURED!!! The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won. Suspect in custody."