Alex Cuozzo, president and coach of the Bellmore Striders running club, bounced between websites as the Boston Marathon progressed on Monday, checking on the club’s three members who were competing in the race.
The websites gave runners’ five-kilometer splits. When Cuozzo found times for his runners — Sal Nastasi of Massapequa, Crystal Perno of Albany (formerly of Point Lookout), and Jill Skelly of Baldwin — he texted the 33 other members of the Striders to alert them to how their teammates were doing in one of the world’s premier marathons.
All three Striders crossed the finish line in under 3 hours and 30 minutes. After Cuozzo posted his final text, he ran errands.
Shortly after the four-hour mark, terror reigned at the Boston Marathon when two crude bombs were detonated near the finish line, with thousands of spectators lining the race route and hundreds of runners on the street. Two fireballs blew out from nearby buildings and spewed into the street, followed by a smoke plume that shrouded the finish line in white. Panic ensued.
Three people — including 8-year-old Martin Richard of Dorchester, Mass. — were killed, and at least 176 were injured. Many lost limbs.
Cuozzo spent the next two and a half hours furiously calling and texting his three teammates, trying desperately to reach them to make sure they were all right. Cell phone coverage, though, was spotty because so many calls were simultaneously placed to Boston, so reaching them was tough.
“I was getting bits and pieces from family members, and I finally heard from them
that they’re OK, and I felt better about it,” Cuozzo said.
Such was Monday afternoon for many in Long Island’s running community as they waited for news of what homeland security experts were calling an act of terrorism. At press time on Tuesday, no individual or group had yet claimed responsibility for the attack, and investigators were saying that they did not yet have a suspect.
Some 30,000 runners from 90 countries took part in the Boston Marathon this year.