Sunday, April 20, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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Davis man finishes Boston Marathon minutes ahead of blasts

Mick and Pam Petersen — shown here in a family photo — were in Boston on Monday as Mick competed in the Boston Marathon, finishing just minutes before the bombing. After a few tense minutes Mick, rear, and Pam found each other and they later were able to contact their three sons — from left, Nate, Matt and Drew — to report that they were OK. Courtesy photo

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From page B1 | April 16, 2013 | 1 Comment

BOSTON — Mick Petersen’s Achilles tendon has been bothering him for some time.

But after qualifying for this year’s Boston Marathon, Petersen wasn’t going to let the nagging injury keep him from his dream trip — running in Monday’s Patriots Day event.

“I was disappointed in my time, 4 hours and 1 minute,” Petersen told The Enterprise by phone.

That’s the bad news.

The good news? Petersen’s tendon held up and the Davis man’s determination allowed him to cross the finish line less than eight minutes before a pair of nearby bomb blasts killed three people and injured scores of others.

Twenty-five Davis runners — including a large contingent from the Golden Valley Harriers — were entered in the race.

Local GVH President Steve Andrews posted information from Boston on the organization’s Facebook site, reporting the names of area people he personally had contact with, verifying their safety. Club official Craighton Chin told The Enterprise late Monday that all 17 of his group’s runners were accounted for and OK.

Sam Bird, Michael Park, Jason Cavatorta, Greg Loge, Cristina Ramirez, John Burmester, Laurin Beckhusen, Dan Landherr, Clariza Aguillon-Doms and Matt Young are all GVH runners confirmed to be survivors, according to Andrews’ postings.

Local runners Beckhusen and Jim Flanigan weren’t finished when the bombs went off. Police redirected the pair — along with hundreds of other marathoners — off the normal course, blocks before the finish line.

Area physician Flanigan has had 26 consecutive finishes since 1985 (and 27 total counting his first Boston finish in 1977), making him part of the Boston Marathon Quarter Century Club, according to Chin.

Each member of this elite group of marathoners has at least 25 consecutive finishes in Boston.

“As with many runners, the Boston Marathon has always had a strong appeal to me,” Flanigan said before leaving for Massachusetts. “I have appreciated it differently during each decade of my life, from the 20s through my 60s.”

A decision undoubtedly will be made as to whether Flanigan and the others will get credit for finishing.

Back to the Petersens …

“It was a little closer than I would have liked. It’s just horrible, for sure,” said Petersen, a Sutter Medical Group orthopedist. “I was about two blocks away, getting my clothes. … I just finished when I heard the first bomb go off.

“I looked down the street and saw this big mushroom cloud come up. I knew immediately it was a terrorist attack.”

Petersen’s thoughts turned instantly to his wife, Pam.

“That was my biggest concern … then another bomb went off,” Mick Petersen said. “I knew she was going to the (post-race) meeting area for families.”

Exhausted from his just-completed 26-mile jaunt, Petersen took off on a painful jog …

“I didn’t know if she was there or not,” the patriarch of one of Davis’ top running families continued. “I got there and (Pam) wasn’t there. It made my heart drop.”

With thousands of spectators, emergency services personnel and race participants moving in chaotic spasms around him, Petersen suddenly caught a glimpse of his wife — safe, sound and shaken.

“It sounded to me like things falling off a construction site,” Pam Petersen told The Enterprise. “I was about three blocks away when it happened. Mick was closer. I was very worried when … (I found out) it was bombs.”

The uncertainty of those minutes separated after the blast gave way to relief when the pair reunited, uninjured. Then a sense of urgency to get back to their hotel set in.

Just minutes after running for four hours, Mick Petersen would be on the move again.

“My poor, hobbling husband and I walked the rest of the way back to the hotel,” Pam recounted. “We didn’t feel it was safe to take the subway — we found out later they closed part of it anyway — so we walked the rest of the way, about a mile and half.”

While the Petersens were clearing harm’s way, Boston police were trying to secure the area.

Emergency services staff had to painstakingly go from bag to bag under the assumption that each was a potential explosive device.

Meanwhile, the Davis track community was concerned for the safety of the Petersens, who have three sons — Matt, Drew and Nathan — back on the West Coast.

UC Davis student Drew is a cross country and distance assistant for the Davis High squad and Matt is in his senior year as a Cal track standout. DHS grad Nate, a Special Olympics participant, volunteers at Blue Devil meets and still works out with his beloved Devils.

DHS cross country coach Bill Gregg had been in touch with the Petersens and track coach Spencer Elliott said he was relieved to know the pair were safe: “They mean so much to our program, our community.”

Pam is a recently retired pediatrician who is a key volunteer in area organizations and a regular at the scorer’s table at Blue Devil track meets.

So, will Mick be back to Boston in 2014?

“I don’t think so,” the exhausted runner said from his hotel room. “This was my dream. I did it.”

Pam Petersen says she and her husband plan to “hunker down here (Monday) and catch a flight out (Tuesday).”

Meanwhile, the Federal Aviation Administration warned pilots that it had created a no-fly zone over the blast site.

Notes: Boston Marathon runners registered as being Davis residents or locally affiliated are Clariza Aguillon-Doms, Stephen W. Andrews, Rachel Bailey, Beckhusen, Samuel Bird, Brian Breitbard, John Burmester, Jason Cavatorta, Michael Fan, Bruce Fisher, Flanigan, Stephen Fleming, Peter Kerr, Heather Kormure-Chan, Gregory Lee, Ki Lee, Greg Loge, Mick Petersen, Amber Roegner, Stella Ruiz, Azniv Sutton, Chaochun Wang, Bruce Wright, Di Wu, Lin Yang and Matthew Young. … Lost in the tragedy: Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa and Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo won the men’s and women’s Boston Marathon. Desisa finished in 2:10.22. Jeptoo’s 2:26.25 came 104 minutes before all hell broke loose.

— The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Bruce Gallaudet

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Discussion | 1 comment

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  • AnonymousApril 16, 2013 - 8:50 pm

    I found it kind of insulting the way the writer described Nate Petersen's involvement in the Davis High School community. Yes, he helps at meets but he is tremendously involved in the actual high school sports and is on the roster. He also was on the cross country team all 4 years and actively participated. The description inferred that he only helps out and doesnt run which is not true.

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