A Bainbridge Island runner who raced in this year’s Boston Marathon said the event will be forever changed by the bombings Monday that left three people dead and more than 170 injured.
Peter Vosshall, 42, of Bainbridge had finished competing in his fifth straight Boston Marathon and had already made it back to his hotel, Taj Boston, about a half mile away when the explosions went off.
Vosshall said he was taking a shower and didn’t hear the blasts. His mother, who was visiting from Vermont to cheer him on in the race, did.
“She figured it was a generator or furnace exploding,” he said.
Vosshall said the explosions turned the city’s premier springtime event into a tragedy.
“I’m just sick to my stomach about it,” he said. “This is a such a celebration for the city of Boston. There’s a half million people on the course, cheering on the runners. It’s supposed to be a great day. It turned into a devastating situation in an instant.”
Vosshall estimated he finished the race about an hour or so before the explosions.
He said he has thought in the hours since what might have happened if the explosions happened earlier or in a different spot along the course.
“If whoever did this was more organized or sinister, they could have set those devices up at the starting line, where there were much denser groups of people,” he said. “There were 9,000 people standing for at least 20, 30 minutes, waiting for the race to start.”
Vosshall said his wife called as soon as she heard the news, and he posted a message on Facebook and sent emails to let others know he was OK. It’s been impossible to send a text message since, he said.
Shelly Vosshall, Peter’s wife, stayed on Bainbridge Island when Peter left April 12 to go to Boston.
She had one word to describe the tragedy: “Horrifying.”
Though she figured her husband was OK because he had already finished the race, she took great comfort in hearing from him that he was safe.
“Relieved. Hugely, hugely relieved,” she said.
Vosshall works as a distinguished engineer at Amazon.com. He was one of at least seven Bainbridge runners in this year’s Boston Marathon.
This year’s Boston Marathon was the 11th marathon that Vosshall has competed in, and he usually runs about two marathons a year.
“I’m sure this race will be very, very different in the future,” he said. “I imagine it’s going to have a very different complexion.”
Other Bainbridge runners in the race include Luis Borges, 51; David McVay, 45; Ken Pinchiff, 49; Bob Powers, 50; Claudia Powers, 45; Charlie Quinn, 45 and Ron Copstead, 61.
Brenda McVay, the wife of David McVay, said her husband had finished the race by the time the explosions went off, estimated at 2:45 p.m. Boston time.
“He was getting something to eat when it happened,” she said.
“He’s fine,” she said. “And he’s only a block from the finish line in his hotel room. He said there was a lot of emergency vehicles around and everybody is doing the best they can.”
n n n
An estimated 17 Kitsap County residents were registered as runners in the race, according to the Boston Marathon website. None were believed to have been injured.
From the Kitsap Peninsula: Joel Braman, 31, of Bremerton; Kelsi L. Canavan, 27, of Silverdale; Kevin A. Fischer, 33, of Port Orchard; Travis L. Friedman, 33, of Silverdale; Terry E. Fritz, 50, of Port Orchard; Joey Gutjahr, 42, of Silverdale; Jeffrey Moen, 60, of Bremerton; Abigail B. Reichley, 34, of Bremerton; Matthew B. Taran, 45, of Bremerton.
From Bainbridge Island: Luis Borges, 51; Ron Copstead, 61; David Mcvay, 45, Ken Pinchiff, 49; Bob Powers, 50; Claudia Powers, 45, Charlie Quinn, 45; Peter S. Vosshall, 42.
n n n
Of Kitsap runners that qualified to compete in the Boston Marathon, not all elected to participate.
Jeffrey Moen of Bremerton qualified to run in the marathon. He said he had run three times in the past, but this year his wife said the hotel prices were too expensive to justify the trip.
It was fortuitous that they didn’t attend, Moen said, as his wife would likely have been watching from the vicinity of the explosions.“My wife usually stands right there at the finish line,” he said.
n n n
Port Orchard’s Kevin Fischer reported Monday on Facebook that he finished the Boston Marathon before two explosions occurred near the finish line, about 4 hours 10 minutes into the race.
According to his Facebook page, Fischer, 33, and his sisters were at their hotel about an hour after the blast.
Fischer was one of two Port Orchard runners registered for the marathon. Terry Fritz, 50, also signed up, but — according to South Kitsap co-track coach Kathy Ballew — he recently underwent knee surgery and was unable to run. Fritz is an assistant under Ballew for the school’s cross-country team.
n n n
On Monday at 2:15 p.m., Sue Tate Cox of Suquamish reported on the North Kitsap Herald’s Facebook page, “Jordan Andersen, a 29-year-old North Kitsap High School graduate, is there as well. He finished before the explosion and is safe in his hotel.”
According to the Boston Marathon website, Andersen now lives in Kirkland.
n n n
Local runners wanted to show their support for the victims in the Boston Marathon bombings Monday, so they sent out an email, text and social media blast inviting runners to gather at Poulsbo Running on 10th Avenue Tuesday.
Bridget Young of Indianola has run in several events organized by the owners of Poulsbo Running, Brooke and Chris Hammett. Young had the idea to gather her fellow runners in a show of support at the store, which Young described as a local running community “hub.”
The store donated part of the proceeds from Tuesday’s sales to the American Red Cross; 26.2 percent of sales from anyone wearing a race T-shirt were donated.
The Head Hunter salon, 20174 Front St. in Poulsbo, is also donating to the Red Cross. Anyone who wears a race T-shirt will also have 26.2 percent of their purchase or service donated through the end of the week.
Young said the Boston Marathon is like the Holy Grail of marathons, which was “violated” by the attack. She wanted to send a message of support to all runners.
“I’m sure Boston will recover,” she said. The gathering “marks all for one and one for all — we all feel it, all the way across the country.”
Poulsbo Running employee Robin Pelton ran in the 2006 Boston Marathon, and her husband ran last year. She said she was watching the live stream and had just seen a friend of hers cross the finish line when she heard a “boom.”
Pelton used to live in Boston and thought at first organizers had added cannons this year to celebrate Patriot’s Day. Her son called her to turn on the news, and Pelton saw the blasts were not celebratory nor planned. She said she remembered standing where the second bomb went off during the 2006 marathon.
“You realize how precious life is,” Pelton said. “You just don’t know from one day to the next.”
Pelton also felt the Poulsbo running community could do something to show support.
“There’s not much more we can do. We’re not in Boston, but we can come together as runners as a show of support.”
n n n
Runners and community members from around Kitsap County gathered in Silverdale Tuesday night to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
People gathered at Waterfront Park in Old Town Silverdale at 6:30 p.m. There was a moment of silence at 6:45 p.m., followed by a tribute run at 7 p.m.
“… We’re going to send our message, and the sounds of our feet will be our voice,” organizers wrote on the event page on Facebook. “We don’t run from … things, we run TO them. We help how we can.”
The run was part of a worldwide event called Runners United to Remember. More than 50,000 people RSVP’d worldwide.
How you can help
Visit the American Red Cross website, www.redcross.org, to help the victims’ families and for information on how to cope in the face of tragedy.
— Reporting by Brian Kelly and Richard D. Oxley, Bainbridge Island Review; Kevan Moore and Wes Morrow, Central Kitsap Reporter; Kipp Robertson and Megan Stephenson, North Kitsap Herald; Dannie Oliveaux, Port Orchard Independent.