Close call: Kooikers in Boston to watch
Unity grad's first Boston Marathon an emotional one
by Gary King
BOSTON - It was Michelle Tuma’s first time competing in the Boston Marathon on Monday - and meant to be one of the emotional highs of her life.
Unfortunately, the thrill of finishing the race for the 1990 Unity High School graduate was overshadowed minutes later by the chaos and carnage created when two hidden bombs exploded along the homestretch of the marathon.
Tuma crossed the finish line at 3:53:03. The first bomb exploded at 4:09:43, approximately 17 minutes later.
She and her husband, who was there to cheer her on, were far enough away from the blast to avoid injury but they heard it - and felt the ground shake.
Back in Wisconsin, Tuma’s father, Mike Morris, a longtime teacher and coach at Unity, said he and his wife, who was babysitting the grandkids at the Tuma home in Rochester, Minn., heard about the explosion but couldn’t reach their daughter as the phone lines were jammed with the thousands of attempted calls in the wake of the tragedy.
“For about an hour and a half we were wondering,” he said. “And it was a scary time for them (Michelle and her husband).”
Fortunately the Tumas didn’t experience some of the problems runners were having with claiming their items and getting clearance to return to their hotels. They had all of their IDs and belongings with them.
T uma trained a long time to qualify to run the Boston Marathon, said her father, who coached the Unity boys track team for years, a dynasty by regional standards. He noted with obvious pride that Michelle “still has her name on a four-by-four relay record.”
“This was a terrible incident,” Morris said. “Fortunately - at least for our family - it didn’t end in tragedy.”
Other area runners
Of the nearly 450 Wisconsinites qualifying to run this year’s Boston Marathon, just over 350 finished the 26-plus miles.
Former state Rep. Steve Wickert of Appleton finished just two minutes before the explosions.
According to the New Richmond News, at least eight marathon runners from the New Richmond, Deer Park, Amery and Somerset areas were all fine following the blasts, citing information in a text from Joe Kelzer of the New Richmond Running Club.
Some of the local runners included Tammy Briseno of Amery, Jeff Johnston of Deer Park, Joy Keller of Deer Park, Dan Wells of New Richmond, and Wil Ibes of New Richmond.
The Leader attempted to track down information by press time about other area residents who were said to have at the marathon, but was unsuccessful. Any updates to this story will be posted on our Web site at the-leader.net.
Frederic sisters were at Boston Marathon
by Gary King
BOSTON - Two Frederic High School alumni - sisters Kathy Lindberg Tuff of Shoreview, Minn. and Dawn Sandness of Laguna Hills, Calif., were at the Boston Marathon, and both are reported safe.
Sandness flew out to Boston to cheer on Tuff, who crossed the finish line just seven minutes before the first explosion occurred.
“My daughters are so close,” said Linda Pederson, who is a longtime Frederic-area resident with her husband, Dr. Larry Pederson, a retired veterinarian.
Tuff was at the finishing area where runners gathered their belongings when the explosion occurred.
“It was kind of scary for her as she didn’t know where Dawn and Ralph were,” Linda said.
Larry’s son, Al Pederson, heard the news of the explosions and was able to get in touch with Kathy via cell phone before the airwaves jammed with an overload of calls. He relayed the information that everyone was safe.
Tuff ran more than 20 marathons to qualify for the Boston Marathon, her mother said. She finished the race in 4 hours and 55 seconds.
Editor’s note: The Boston Marathon is considered to be America’s most prestigious marathon. Each year the event draws more than 20,000 competitors and 500,000 spectators from all over the world. The marathon, started in 1897 and modeled after the 1896 Olympic event, is held each year on Patriots’ Day, the day commemorating the anniversary of the first battles of the American Revolutionary War. Of the nearly 450 state residents to qualify for this year’s marathon, approximately 350 completed the 26-plus mile event.