Cedar Falls graduates at Boston Marathon safe after tragedy

More than 28,000 people from around the world gathered to run the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15. At about 2:50 p.m. the first explosion went off, shocking the world. Just about 10 seconds later the second explosion erupted. Everything was in chaos. Families whose loved ones participated marathon, went into a state of panic. Not knowing if they were hurt or even alive was, to say the least, terrifying. This became a reality for a couple families from Cedar Falls: the Sevciks and the Hallorans.

Cedar Falls graduates Sarah Halloran and Andrew Halloran pose before the Boston marathon. (Submitted photo)

The Boston Marathon has been THE race to be at for many years. The race is like the Superbowl of all marathons. It is a huge deal for the runners because they have to qualify for the race. That in itself is a huge accomplishment which these runners can spend years of training to reach. Former CFHS student, JP Sevcik, had family running in the prestigious marathon. His two brothers, David Sevcik and Daniel Sevcik, ran for their 3rd time at Boston.

When the explosions went off in Boston, Sevcik remembers exactly where he was at that moment. “I was walking into the library here at Loras when I first heard about the bombs. It was about 2:27. I was walking to a class that was meeting at 2:30, and a group of my friends was talking about it at a table nearby. I casually just said hi and walked past and realized they were talking about something. Curious, I asked what it was, and one of them said something to the tune of they didn’t want me to tell you this, but there were two explosions at the finish line at Boston,” Sevcik said.

Sevcik’s friends knew that his brothers and some friends were running the marathon. “They all knew that I had family there. I was receiving text alerts throughout the day on all of their times, including Andrew Halloran, and I was certainly bragging about it to everyone I saw, so that’s how they all knew. Needless to say, I really wasn’t really all that present in class that day,” Sevcik said.

Lisa Sevcik, mother to all the Sevcik boys, was down at the Presbyterian Church setting up the ice cream machines for the CFHS women’s track team meal when the explosions occurred. She didn’t have to wait and wonder if her sons were OK. “They were waiting for all the members of the Iowa State Running Club to finish. When everyone from the running club came to the meeting place, they went to the subway to go back to the hotel. The blast occurred at 2:09 p.m. My son Joey called me at 2:17 to tell me that two bomb explosions had just went off but they were OK,” Sevcik said.

She was just happy for her son’s accomplishments at the race. A bomb going off was the last thing Sevcik thought she would hear about. “My reaction was one of disbelief. When Joey called, I started to talk about the race and tell him what a great job he did. That there were two bomb explosions was the last thing I would have ever thought he would call about,” Sevcik said.

JP Sevcik was also completely surprised over the bombings. “I was shocked. Sometimes you get a pit in your stomach when something bad has happened, and that certainly happened on Monday. Thankfully, they had sent out a text saying they were all alright, so I didn’t have to worry for all too long, but nonetheless I couldn’t stop thinking about it for the next couple hours. Last year, I could guarantee I would’ve been within a quarter mile of the bomb that went off since we (Mom, Dad, my brother Timothy and my sister Brenda) were watching the race. It took a little bit of time for that to sink in, but hearing about the explosions scared the living daylights out of me,” Sevcik said.

Another former CFHS student, Andrew Halloran, was also there running the Boston Marathon. “I was planning on running Boston ever since I qualified for it last summer at Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minn. I wanted to run it because it is THE marathon to do. It attracts the best runners from around the world every year. Boston celebrates Patriot Day the same day, so none of the schools have classes and many businesses are closed for the day, which leads to a lot of people going out and supporting the runners every year, which is the best part of any marathon,” Halloran said.

Halloran’s sister Sarah also ran the marathon. However, he crossed the finish line before Sarah did. She was just minutes away from where the bombs exploded. “When the two bombs went off, I was in the family meeting area, about a block and a half away from the finish line. Before the race started I asked my sister, Sarah, when she was planning on finishing so I could try to get there to see her. By her prediction she was about 15 minutes away, so I was just about to get up to head towards the finish line,” Halloran said.

Since Halloran finished before the bombs went off, he didn’t find out about them right away. “When the bombs went off, there wasn’t an immediate reaction. I heard it and wasn’t sure what it was — it wasn’t a rolling boom like thunder, it was more like a large dumpster being dropped by a truck (which I wrote it off to be). Five to 10 minutes after the bombs, I was still sitting and a lot of people started walking by with worried looks on their faces, and I didn’t make the connection with the bombs immediately, but I headed towards where everyone was walking from, and the race authorities and police stopped the crowd a block away from the explosion and told everyone to head back to the waiting area,” Halloran said.

After finding out what had happened, Halloran had no idea if his sister was OK. He tried desperately to get ahold of her. “ eventually overheard someone say there was an explosion and some people were injured — I had no idea to what extent. I tried calling my sister to see if she had finished, but no calls were getting through and she didn’t respond to my texts (I later found out she didn’t have her phone on her). I was pretty worried because I thought she might’ve been right around the explosions, and I started to hear a few deaths reported. Finally I heard the bomb was in the crowd, which although this may sound selfish, I was so happy to hear it wasn’t on the course,” Halloran said.

Finally, Halloran got news about his sister. “After about an hour of trying to get hold of/find her, my dad got hold of me and told me she was at a friends house and for me to catch a cab back to her apartment, which was a giant relief. My words can’t do justice to how relieved I was finding out she was safe, then actually seeing her later that night,” Halloran said.

Even though this happened in Boston, JP Sevcik won’t let this awful event stop him from future marathons. “I will say that despite this tragedy I still plan on running Boston in 2017.  Despite the bombings, Boston is still one of the most prestigious races in the world, and people like me will still be drawn to run it. While events like this can take away our sense of security at big time events like Boston, the aura of the race will never change,” Sevcik said.

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