BOSTON – It was the day Copley Square turned into Heartbreak Hell.
Two explosions in quick succession near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon resulted in at least three deaths and 130 injured.
The tragic events unfolded nearly five hours after the first large wave of 24,662 runners left Hopkinton for the world’s most famous marathon.
The scene of chaos and confusion was a marked contrast from a morning bathed in sunlight and the type of low-50s temperatures that make for excellent running conditions.
Rob Gomez, 29, of Saco turned in the top time among Maine runners, lowering his personal-best time to 2 hours, 22 minutes, 53 seconds after racing out to a 2:17 pace through 17 miles. He was less than 11 minutes behind the overall finisher, Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa, who covered the course in 2:10:22.
“I was doing very well through about 18 miles,” Gomez said. “It unraveled for me very quickly. I went from feeling good to completely out of energy within the course of about a half a mile. The last seven miles I really slogged in.”
Sheri Piers, 41, of Falmouth was the top female Mainer and the second masters runner, which earned her $5,000 in prize money. Her time was 2:39:25 — exactly 13 minutes behind the woman’s top finisher, Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo, who posted 2:26:25.
Josh Zolla, 26, of Freeport, had never broken 3 hours in his three previous marathons. On Monday he finished in 2:29:12.
Five other Mainers also broke 2:45, including Scarborough’s Erica Jesseman, 24, who led Piers through 15 miles but faded to 2:44:35, which is still a personal record.
“The last six miles was brutal,” said Jesseman, before heading into a medical tent for treatment. “I actually went numb with about 10k to go, everything went numb.”
The others were Claton Conrad, 30, of Portland (2:37:57 — a personal best by 4 minutes); Falmouth native Kirby Davis, 28, (2:39:09); Al Bugbee, 44, of Falmouth (2:40.04); and Robert Ashby, 44, of Brunswick (2:43:19).
Conrad, a 2001 graduate of Greely High in Cumberland, ran in his father’s footsteps. Marlin Conrad, a native of Pennsylvania, ran a sub-2:29 Boston in the 1970s, according to his son.
“It’s a good tradition in the family,” he said.
Even before the horrendous events later in the afternoon, Gomez was able to find perspective on his performance.
“I work at General Dynamics in Saco and they just laid off 100 people last week,” he said. “So to be able to come down here and have this be my biggest worry, I’m very lucky.”
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: