04/16/13 — Haney at the Boston Marathon: 'We were told bomb went off.'

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Haney at the Boston Marathon: 'We were told bomb went off.'

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on April 16, 2013 1:46 PM

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Mike Haney

Mike Haney of Goldsboro had passed the 24-mile point of his first Boston Marathon when he first noticed something was wrong.

"I was coming up a slight incline and up ahead there were a whole lot of people who didn't appear they were moving. I kept going and then some of the people were actually coming back the other way, and spectators were jumping the fence along the course and coming out to their loved ones," he said.

It was then, about a half mile from the finish line, that Haney and the other runners were halted.

Still unsure what was happening, he said they could hear emergency sirens down the street.

"We were told a bomb had gone off at the finish line and that the race was over," said Haney, vice president of the Wayne County Economic Development Alliance.

At that point, he said he began to panic, as his wife, his sons and their wives, whom he had just seen on Heartbreak Hill, were supposed to be at the finish waiting for him, and with cell phone networks jammed with calls, he wasn't able to reach them.

Fortunately, he said, he saw two girls texting and asked if he could use their phones to text his family. When he reached them, he found out they were actually at an Applebees in Brighton, about three miles from the finish line -- that they had been diverted by law enforcement on their way there and had just found someplace to wait.

"I was in a panic," he said. "It was great to hear that they were safe. It just took us a while to get back together."

And in fact it was another two hours before he reached his hotel room near the finish line and not until 8:30 p.m. that his family was able to make it back, having to walk the distance themselves.

On the walk back to the hotel, he said he did see the area where the blast occurred, but that by then, all of the victims had either been taken to local hospitals or were in the surrounding emergency tents receiving treatment.

What stood out to him throughout the whole ordeal, though, was the compassion shown by Boston residents who brought the runners water and snacks and even trash bags to help them shield themselves from the breezy 50-degree weather. And with temperatures falling, he said he even saw people opening their homes to spectators and runners with small children in tow.

"Like all Americans do, they pulled together," he said. "It was very touching."

And while Haney said he was obviously disappointed that he wasn't able to finish -- he had been running for about four hours at that point, a bit behind his expected pace due to a cramp that slowed him from mile four to mile 13 -- he does hope to be back.

"It was a 15-month process. I qualified in March 2012, and then working and staying in shape until now ... I'm obviously disappointed. But they did the right thing stopping the race. I understand and I think everybody around me understood," he said. "This is the mecca of marathons. I'll have another chance someday. If I have the opportunity to run it again, I'm definitely willing."