Local runner beats blasts
by Jack Deming
Apr 18, 2013 | 2548 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jan Rancatti in Boston before the 2010 Marathon. Despite Monday’s bombing, he plans to run in 2014.
Jan Rancatti in Boston before the 2010 Marathon. Despite Monday’s bombing, he plans to run in 2014.
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BOSTON- Jan Rancatti spent Monday morning at a pre-Marathon party in Hopkinton, the starting point of the Boston Marathon. There he met another racer who shared a common bond. For both, it was their 24th consecutive Boston Marathon. But their days would end differently, and by the end of the day, the Marathon would be changed forever.

Rancatti, a resident of Readsboro, would finish the 26.2-mile-long race in 3:43:56. His new friend would be part of the one-third of nearly 23,000 participants who were not able to cross the finish line, after two homemade bombs near the finish line shattered the tranquility of the day’s events.

The bombs, made from pressure cookers filled with gunpowder, ball bearings, and other shrapnel, exploded 10 seconds and one block apart from each other, killing three, including an 8-year-old boy. The explosions also wounded 176 others, in what is being labeled as the largest terrorist attack on US soil since September 11, 2001. No suspects are in custody, and a motive is unknown. At time of publication, FBI investigators are focusing on surveillance footage near the blast sites to identify a suspect.

Rancatti began running the Boston Marathon in 1990, a time when the race attracted 8,000-9,000 participants. “It’s so big now with 20,000 people running it that it’s hard to meet qualifying times,” said Rancatti. “To deal with the congestion, my strategy became just keeping a good pace, and running a marathon in the fall to qualify.”

While Rancatti missed qualifying by 13 minutes (the qualifying time for his age group is 3:30:00), he was pleased with finishing, admitting, with age, he has begun to slow down. After crossing the finish line he headed to a building two blocks up Boylston Street, on a side street, where participants could get a massage for their now weary joints. As he waited in line he heard something unusually loud.

“From where I was you could hear a boom, it sounded like a sonic boom,” recalled Rancatti. “Ten seconds later there was another boom sound a little farther away, and we thought it was a jet flying over the race, or a water cannon. It was muffled too and echoed because the buildings are close together in that part of Boston, so we didn’t know what it was.”

After entering the building to receive his much-needed massage, Rancatti and everyone else inside were evacuated from the building, and Rancatti began to receive phone calls from relatives and friends asking him if he was ok, they knew before he did what had happened. “When we got outside on Boylston Street there were sirens and emergency vehicles trying to get down the street.”

Rancatti was too far from the explosions to see their damage firsthand, but all around him he saw shell-shocked runners and spectators fleeing the area. Rancatti was able to make it out of the city that day, thanks to help from family in the area, but Rancatti knows the day could have ended much differently for him as it did for so many. “I was lucky to finish fast enough,” said Rancatti. “The Boston Marathon will never be the same.”

Rancatti said that this act of violence would not deter him from next year’s marathon, his 25th, and his entry into the Marathon’s presitgious quarter-century club.
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