April 17, 2013

3 runners from Winamac safe after Boston Marathon

by Caitlin Huston

— George Nietert, of Winamac, was relaxing Tuesday after successfully completing the Boston Marathon for the fifth time, when the ground started moving.  

“When I was in the changing tent, that’s when we were sitting there and ‘boom,’” Nietert said.

Nietert, an eighth-grade math teacher at Winamac Middle School, was about three blocks from the two bomb explosions on Boylston Street. The incident left three dead and injured more than 170 people.

Nietert, who finished the race about 40 minutes before the explosions, was one of three reported Winamac residents who competed in the marathon, and they were all said to be unharmed.

After the initial shaking and explosions, Nietert said he stepped outside the tent to the screaming sounds of sirens and emergency personnel racing down the streets.  

“It was kind of like a war zone,” Nietert said.  

Nietert walked a few blocks farther from the site of the explosions to reunite with his son, who had also been running in the race but had finished hours earlier.

About 30 to 40 minutes outside of the Boston, Mike Haschel of Winamac, was talking to his family about the race, when he started receiving frantic texts and phone calls about the explosions.

“We were safe and sound when it all happened,” Haschel said.  

Haschel, who finished a little less than two hours before the explosions, said his fiancee and mother felt lucky they had decided to watch him race from the hotel, rather than from the street.

“We just got back and were thinking it was kind of crazy that we weren’t there watching the race afterwards,” Haschel said.

Glenn Bailey, of Winamac, was also reported to have run in the marathon and completed it safely, according to Haschel.

While he and his family were stunned by the events, Haschel said Boston residents were also shocked their race had been so violently targeted.

“Everyone was just kind of in disbelief,” Haschel said. “The race is a really proud event for Boston.”

Nietert said he felt bad for the innocent bystanders who were injured, but also for the affected runners who had worked so hard to get to the race.

“It’s their lifelong goal for being here,” Nietert said.  

The explosions are also influencing Haschel’s life. He is registered to run an Indianapolis race in a few weeks, and said he’s planning to go ahead with it.

But he said, he’ll still be thinking about what could have happened to him during the Boston Marathon.

“Now it’s like you kind of keep in the back of your mind,” Haschel said.