Boston horror: 'Sore in my legs, sad in my heart'

Free Union resident Harry Landers finished his fifth Boston Marathon in three hours and 39 minutes. He was showering in his hotel room at around 4:10 into the race when the bombs exploded.

"I just heard two explosions– what was that?" his wife, Janis Jaquith, saw someone post on Facebook. She cut on the TV in their hotel room a few blocks away from the finish line.

"It was jaw-dropping," says Jaquith. "You can't believe it's happening on such a joyful day. It's Patriot Day, and it's a joy to be alive," especially for those who just finished a 26-mile run. At press time, three people are dead and 170 wounded.

"Where the bomb went off was where Harry had been cheering me on the day before when I ran a 5K," recounts Jaquith. "That's right where people got their limbs blown off the next day." And that's where bystanders and family members waiting for their marathoners would be, she adds.

Hook columnist, Jaquith, and Landers, both Massachusetts natives, spoke to the Hook from Boston the day after the terror of April 15. "It was absolute shock and people were crying," says Jaquith, describing "horror upon horror." There was frantic checking in with everyone, and dozens of people to worry about, she says.

Landers was there with his running group from Charlottesville, which included Ragged Mountain's Mark Lorenzoni, builder Mike Gaffney, and about 30 others.

"For me, this is like Christmas, the 4th of July and my birthday," says Landers. "I look forward to it all year. I train with friends from Charlottesville who are here. There are friends from all over the country I see here."

Within an hour, all of the Charlottesville people were accounted for. The group had planned to go out for a celebratory dinner that night, but the governor requested that people stay off the streets, says Jaquith. The hotel provided room service in the lobby, and the group gathered there instead.

She describes an eerie scene outside her hotel. "At dusk, we saw people in space blankets coming from the wrong way," says Jaquith, likening it to something out of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Everyone still on the course after the bombs exploded had been stopped and taken to shelters, she explains. Hours later, they were dropped off and left to wander "like wraiths" in a place where they couldn't retrieve the yellow bags containing their keys, cellphones, and wallets.

And those unretrieved yellow bags– "It looked like a display of daffodils," says Jaquith.

There were all sorts of stories going around post-explosion. Landers and Jaquith were standing in the Loews hotel bar watching TV when this guy came up, says Landers, and claimed, "I was there. I was in the stand. I saw somebody put down something that was between a briefcase and a suitcase. He briskly walked away and then it exploded."

Lots of people are carrying backpacks because they need warm clothes after the race, says Landers. A briefcase or suitcase would not be so common at the marathon.

That night, Stuart Street in front of their hotel was blocked off, and Jaquith recalls the blue of police lights washing against buildings. "Every time I heard a siren, I woke up, thinking, is there more?" says Jaquith, who frankly admits, "I won't feel safe until our plane touches down in Richmond tonight."

Harry Landers is resolute about the marathon. "I'm going to be here," he says. "To think you can't do something because of this. It could happen at every movie, sports event, wherever people are gathered. I'll be here."

He and Jaquith prepare for a walk around Boston, which Landers needs to do to help with his post-marathon recovery. "I'm feeling sore," he says. "I'm sore in my legs, sad in my heart."