For months, Mike Rogers heard the same three words.
His wife said them. His daughters preached them. Even alarmed patients left them on voice mails for the local orthodontist.
“They all told me ‘Don’t go back,’ ” the 68-year-old said of returning to this year’s Boston Marathon, scheduled for April 21. “They’re worried about my safety – worried something might happen again. But I have to go back. I need closure after what happened last year.”
Since 2001, Rogers has competed in eight Boston Marathons, including last year, when the Augusta resident finished the race moments before the bombings.
Rogers finished in 4:08:24, less than 90 seconds before the first explosion shook the stands.
“It’s something I’ll never forget,” Rogers said. “I was still very close to the finish line when we heard the explosions. Right after it happened, everyone was in a panic and people kept telling us to run. I was just hoping my wife was OK.”
Before the race, Beth Rogers planned to be near the finish line in hopes of getting a glimpse of her husband. But too many people got there ahead of her and Rogers had to watch from a family waiting area about a block away.
“The crowd was so heavy that I couldn’t get where I was supposed to be,” she said. “Who knows what would have happened if I made it to the finish line? I could have been in the middle of everything.”
Unsure whether Mike had finished, Beth waited for an update. Moments later, the two connected by phone before the local networks were shut down because of a fear that cellphones were being used to trigger the explosions.
“It seemed like forever before we got in touch with each other,” Beth said. “When we finally did, I can’t describe how relieved I was. We eventually reconnected (at our hotel).”
A year later, Mike and Beth are returning to Boston, a decision Beth remains hesitant about.
“When Mike decided to go, there was no question I was going with him,” she said. “But I have no plans on being near the street. You just never know what people are capable of doing. Right now, I intend on watching the race from our hotel.”