It was a hectic day for the nation, but for those in Boston, it was chaos. We are likely only beginning to comprehend the aftermath of the two explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon yesterday that took three lives and injured at least 140 others. It is a tragedy that we will likely never understand — for how can one understand something that has no good explanation?
As soon as the news broke yesterday, people who knew any of the more than 20,000 registered participants tried to make contact despite the shaky cell phone service. It became clear almost immediately that there was a sizable number of Penn Staters racing or in the area.
Ryan Hogan was one of those Penn Staters. Hogan is the president of Penn State’s Club Cross Country team. Although he did not participate himself, he was in Boston yesterday afternoon to cheer on the three current and six former Club Cross Country members that he knew racing in the marathon.
Hogan was only two blocks from the explosions that occurred just before 3:00 p.m.
“We heard something that kind of sounded like thunder, so we let it go,” Hogan said. “It didn’t even register that something was going wrong. Then we saw people hurrying away from the scene and we said ‘hmmm this is interesting.’ I starting to connect everything and I realized something wasn’t going right.”
Hogan said he found out what was going on using Twitter, mere blocks away from the detonation.
“Like any journalist, I checked twitter and found out what was going on,” Hogan said.
Hogan quickly tried to make contact with his fellow Club Cross Country teammates. None of the nine Penn Staters Hogan knew in the race were injured.
“Most had finished by a pretty decent margin,” Hogan said. “Everyone was okay. Two guys didn’t even get to finish that were about a half mile away. They literally put roadblocks up. Us and the Nittany Valley Running Club made it out safely.”
In all, sixteen members of the State College-based Nittany Valley Running Club were registered in the marathon. Other Penn Staters — including numerous faculty and staff members — were able to make it out unscathed.
The Greater Boston chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association offered its support to anyone affected by the events yesterday.
“We hope all of our alumni and their loved ones are safe and, if any students, alumni or other members of the Penn State community who were involved need any assistance or lodging, please don’t hesitate to reach out,” Communications VP Katie Huber said.
For Hogan, who was set to return to State College late last night, the tragedy hasn’t really sunk in.
“I haven’t had much of a chance to process it,” Hogan said. “I imagine it will be surreal when I get home and have a chance to look at everything.”