From the start line to the front line
April 24, 2013
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Explosions at the finish line of the 117th running of the Boston Marathon last week quickly caught Scott Grosscup’s attention, but it wasn’t long before the 40-year-old Glenwood Springs man shifted his attention elsewhere.
“Everyone was in a panic, saying things like, ‘You’ve gotta get out of here,'” said Grosscup, who recalled the chaotic events on Monday. “At that point, we had no idea where our father was.”
The bombs, made from pressure cookers and placed at the finish line on Boylston Street in Boston, killed three and injured more than 170. Grosscup’s initial fear after hearing the bombs go off was the safety of his father, 65-year-old Jeff, who had not crossed the finish line at the time the bombs went off.
Grosscup had come to Boston with his brother, 28-year-old Neil, and his father, to run the race with his family after qualifying for it in 2011. Grosscup’s brother and father had flown in from different parts of the country and met up with Scott in Boston.
None of them could have foreseen the events that took place at the finish line. And memories, even after the bombing suspects have been identified and one of them captured, still linger in Grosscup’s mind.
“The impact from the explosions that seemed so distant at first have become more significant,” he wrote in an e-mail to the Post Independent last week. “This is indeed a tragedy to the nation and to sport. We must recognize that, although this is an isolated incident, the violence does have a lasting impact that requires collective effort to resolve.”
Grosscup, in the week following the bombing, expressed sadness and anger for the events of April 15 in Boston. The sadness is based on reports about the bombing victims. The anger followed because of how the bombing affected his father.
The half-hour check-in period occupied much of Grosscup’s time after he had finished the race. He then met with his brother and found a place to rest and recover on Commonwealth Avenue, two blocks from the finish line.
Not long afterward, while he was reveling in a personal-best time of 3 hours, 5 minutes and 28 seconds, the bombs went off.
The reaction around where Grosscup and his brother sat wasn’t immediate since nobody knew what had happened. When they found out, Scott and Neil’s immediate thoughts went to their father who, based on his qualifying time, should have been crossing the finish line right around the time the bombs went off.
“They went off at what was roughly his qualifying time,” Grosscup said. “So had he made that, he could have been there at that time. But he was slower and had actually been put into a different wave of runners, so he actually started later.
“So he was nowhere near the bombs when they went off,” he continued. “But we didn’t know that.”
Jeff Grosscup, as it turned out, was stopped at the 25-mile point of the marathon, just a little more than one mile away from the finish line. He was, however, able to walk back to the finish line and find his personal items with the help of a race volunteer, many of whom still remained among the chaos to help runners come in from the race.
“He was certainly worried about us,” Scott said. “He knew that the bombs went off, but he had no idea where we were. He knew that we had finished, but he didn’t know if we’d come back to the finish line or not. He just didn’t know.”
It wasn’t long afterward when Scott got a phone call from his father, and Scott, Neil and Jeff quickly reunited and left the race scene. Many people followed suit, and the only people who remained at the scene stayed to look for family, friends or loved ones.
“It just didn’t seem like the safest place to be at that point,” Scott said.
The anger Grosscup experienced took hold after the reunion, knowing his father wasn’t able to cross the finish line after coming all that way to run the race.
“This was the guy who inspired us and got us to join him,” Grosscup said. “And he didn’t get to finish.”
Still, Grosscup is grateful for the phone calls he received from friends and family concerned for his well-being. And even though he admits how much fun the race was, once was enough.
“No. We’ll do something different,” Grosscup said when asked if he’ll run the Boston Marathon again. “It was a lot of fun. Maybe we’ll do London or Paris next time.”