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Running column: Top area finishers humbled by tragedy at Boston

McKaig, Glancy keep running perspective

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - 4:47 am

From sobbing over her performance to a “very sobering experience," Alissa McKaig walks away from her first Boston Marathon with an odd perspective.

“It was a pretty bad day for me,” McKaig said of her race. “But it was just a footrace. It might be my profession, but in the grand scheme of things, it's not life or death.”

McKaig, a Concordia Lutheran graduate and former NCAA All-American and NAIA national champ, was walking to lunch with her parents, Ed and Cindy, when the two separate blasts occurred near the finish line. So far the explosions have resulted in three deaths and more than 100 injuries.

Now a professional runner based out of North Carolina, McKaig finished the 26.2-mile race in 2 hours, 45 minutes and 2 seconds to finish 27th out of 6,942 female finishers. It was about 15 minutes and 20 places back of where she hoped to finish.

“I caught a bug a few weeks ago and then had some (intestinal) issues during the race,” McKaig said. “I sobbed after the race and cried my eyes out in the shower. Then, walking to lunch ... ”

McKaig and her parents were roughly 1,000 meters from the finish area when she heard the first blast.

“I said, 'That wasn't good,' ” McKaig said. “I thought maybe the grandstand collapsed. But then we saw all these people running away from the finish line and we knew something really bad had happened.”

The McKaigs were able to get into a nearby restaurant before downtown Boston erupted in chaos. For several hours the hotels were on lockdown, and once they were opened again, everything else in the city shut down.

Huntington's Justin Glancy escaped the city just in time. The 2009 Huntington North graduate finished in 3:01.03 (2,270th out of 17,580 finishers) and went straight to Boston's airport.

“I think I was on one of the last flights to get out,” Glancy said Monday afternoon while on a layover in Philadelphia. “In Boston, I went through security and then saw the TVs and all the news coverage. I couldn't believe it. I had just been there.”

Glancy said he was “thankful” that he escaped.

“That's the thing: I'm thankful but I just feel terrible, too,” Glancy said. “I've been telling every back home that I am OK, I still feel awful.”

Fort Wayne's Grant Stieglitz was northeast Indiana's top finisher in 2:44:21, good for 448th place. He, too, because of his finishing time, was safely in his hotel room with his parents, Jeff and Betty.

“I was taking an ice bath, but my folks heard the boom,” Stieglitz said. “We just stayed inside after that.”

As was the case with McKaig and Glancy, it was Stieglitz's first Boston Marathon. He says it won't be his last and would recommend the race to anyone.

“Running Boston is a dream, and you shouldn't let anything stop you from your dreams,” Stieglitz said.