Press-Republican

April 19, 2013

Flu slows down marathoner

By ROBIN CAUDELL
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — Keith F. Benoit homeschools his daughter, Claire, while still processing the tragic events at the 117th running of the Boston Marathon.

“The biggest thing is you get so broken down from running a marathon like this, it strips you of your human pretensions,” said Benoit, who lives in Plattsburgh.

“It’s nothing to see total strangers come in at the same time and embrace each other on the finish line. They’re all the volunteers, family and friends who watch

“It’s a huge expression of human goodwill — what (the terrorists) did is so counter to that

“It’s depressing,” he continued. “When you stack that up against all the goodwill that happened before and after the event, it pales in comparison.”

FAMILY WORRIED

Benoit was among the 2,278 men in his age group that started and one of the 1,941 who finished before the race was suspended because of Monday’s twin-bomb attacks.

He was recovering from the flu, so figures he completed the course some 50 minutes later than he otherwise would have.

He crossed the finish line 19 minutes before the first bomb detonated at 2:50 p.m He was in his car at the start line in Hopkinton before he heard about the explosions.

“I didn’t hear anything. I was in my car when I got a call from my wife (Holly) to call my mother. All she knew was there was an explosion at the finish line.”

Due to his illness, Benoit had told his mother he might drop off the race course, return to his car and drive to the finish line to watch the elite runners come in.

“That was the terrifying angle for my family.”

HEARD FIRST BLAST

Kara Bonneau, who graduated from Northeastern Clinton Central School in Champlain, finished the marathon at 1:50 p.m., with an official time of 3:26:02 She was walking up St. James Avenue, parallel to Boylston, when she heard the first blast.

“As we looked around trying to figure out what was going on, I hoped it was a falling crane, gas explosion or some other type of accident,” emailed the Champlain native, who lives in Durham, N.C.

“Then the bang and vibration of the second explosion squashed our hopes of something minor or accidental. The overwhelming sound of sirens followed, and emergency vehicles were coming from every direction

“We didn’t know it at the time, but the bombs had gone off only two blocks from where we were, but we never saw anything because it was on the other side of the block

Since we didn’t see smoke, my first thought was that something had happened in the subway, but thankfully, I was able to reach my husband (Monte Mauney) right away, and he was safe back at the hotel. “

HUGS AND TEARS

On her way back, she saw many people on cellphones and crying.

“As soon as we walked into the lobby, we saw the images on the news and only then did we learn what had happened. I couldn’t believe that the scene I was seeing on television was the same place I’d run through only an hour earlier

“Crossing that finish line was one of the best feelings I’ve had as a runner, and in an instant, the feelings of happiness and accomplishment were completely wiped out and replaced with shock and sadness

“I am certain that I have never felt such extreme emotions at opposite ends of the spectrum in a matter of hours.”

Back in North Carolina on Tuesday, Bonneau and her Bull City Track Club teammates met for dinner, she said, “to collectively process what had happened.

“There were hugs and tears, and we shared our marathon stories from the positive parts of the day, and that was very therapeutic.”

She will run the 2014 Boston Marathon.

“My entire team is in agreement, and we are embracing the event more than ever and planning to rally around the next race in honor of the victims and as a testament to the fact that we will not be ruled by fear or terror,” Bonneau wrote

Email Robin Caudell:rcaudell@pressrepublican.com