Ken Sluti has probably never been happier to have a change in plans.
The Fonda runner had just completed his third Boston Marathon on Monday and posted his best marathon time ever. Originally, Sluti had planned on spending the night with a friend before heading back to the area today.
A change in scheduling, however, meant he had to leave shortly after finishing the race, which he did shortly after 1 p.m. About 90 minutes out of Boston, Sluti heard the news.
Two blasts had gone off at the finish line. Three people confirmed dead. More than 140 wounded.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Sluti said.
The most famous marathon in the world had several local runners take part in it this year, including members of the Hudson-Mohawk Road Runners Club, which had some of its membership, which boasts 2,000 people, participate.
Maureen Cox, vice president of the club, said social media reports seemed to be indicating all the club’s runners were OK.
“We’re a social club, so it’s not like a school field trip where we have a roster that we can tick off,” she said. “Everyone goes out on their own, and some people show up, and some people don’t, so we’re not going to know.”
Cox said she was heartbroken by news of the tragedy.
“I’m shocked and bewildered,” she said. “This is an event that brings joy to every runner’s heart. It’s a bucket list, dream event for anyone who runs, and it breaks my heart to see something like this happen.”
According to a search of local residents participating in the race, nearly all of them finished between 1 and 1:30 p.m., meaning they were finished before the bombs went off.
Stu Palczak, the head coach of the Amsterdam High School girls track and field team, has done the Boston Marathon six times but didn’t race this year.
When asked what his reaction was to the news, he said, “At first, I was in disbelief. I saw the pictures — even before I knew what was going on, I had seen the pictures on TV — and I was like: ‘Wait — these are pictures of the finish line of the marathon. What the heck?’”
He explained that when you finish the race, you’re “elated” and hang out for a while near there. There are medical tents and a baggage area to pick up belongings, and people generally hang around there for a while after their races. He said there are thousands of people in that area once runners begin to finish.
“To see that happen, it’s jolting, shocking, scaring,” Palczak said. “I had friends on the course today. If not for the grace of God, or this event (the AHS track meet) today, I could have been on the course today, too.
“It’s so sad. It’s just really sad. It’s such a great event.”
Sluti said with more than 26,000 people running the marathon, along with the throngs of people who line up to watch the race, he’s not sure what could be done to “stop anything like that.”
“I don’t think you can prevent anything like that,” he said.
While Sluti said his marathon days aren’t over, he has a little hesitation about committing to future races in Boston.
“I’m probably going to think twice about doing that one,” he said. “This was unexpected.”
Michael Kelly, Charlie Kraebel and Heather Nellis contributed to this report.