When Rogers turned the corner onto Boylston Street, the final stretch of the Boston Marathon, he was pushing himself to beat four hours and 10 minutes – the time required to qualify for next year’s race.
The 67-year-old orthodontist is a veteran marathoner who regularly clocks in finishes less than four hours, but Monday afternoon he was lagging – slowed by a recent surgery and hamstring cramps that struck around the 23-mile mark.
Rogers crossed the finish at 4:08:24. The first explosion ripped through the crowd nearby at 4:09:44, killing at least three people and injuring more than 140.
“If I was about one minute slower it would have gotten me,” Rogers said by phone Monday evening, still shaken by the day’s events.
“It was awful. Just very, very sad,” he said.
Rogers said he had time enough to walk away from the finishing area and get water and food from race volunteers when he heard the first blast outside.
“Right as I got down to the buses to get my race gear was when it went off,” he said. “Everyone was in a panic. People came running down the street and they told us to run. So, I ran.”
He quickly made his way out of the finish area and began trying to link up with his wife, Beth, who had not seen him since the start.
“It was interesting how my legs came back to life,” he said. “I could have run another mile or so to get out of there.”
Beth Rogers said she would have been watching for her husband at the finish line, but the crowds were too large, so she moved to a family waiting area about a block away.
“All of a sudden there was a big bang,” she said. “You could see the smoke coming up above the buildings and then there was another bang. The family area just got silent we were all in shock.”
Soon the streets were packed with ambulances and emergency personnel.
Mike Rogers said he managed to connect with Beth with one phone call before the local cellphone networks were overwhelmed. They both had to navigate the crowded streets to meet back at their hotel a few blocks away.
“I teared up when I finally saw him,” Beth Rogers said. “I’ve never been through anything like this.”