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Local Runner, Author Escapes Boston Blast

John Hanc finished the race more than an hour before the explosion 

For John Hanc, of Farmingdale, racing the Boston Marathon was the culmination of a week doing a lot of press for his new book, The B.A.A. at 125: The Official History of the Boston Athletic Association, 1887-2012, which tells the story of the oldest marathon in the country, and the third-largest marathon in the world.


“It was a great week…and an hour and half later it fell apart,” says Hanc. “My business concerns seemed to shrink in light of the terrorist attacks.”


Hanc finished the race in 3:19, a minute earlier than his goal. He was in hotel room, four blocks from the finish line, when the bomb exploded. He said he was on the phone with a friend who first heard the explosion from the pressroom, then heard the sirens and saw the emergency vehicles racing toward the site.


A friend living in a Natick, a Boston suburb, insisted that he come stay with him, and he eagerly took him up on the offer.


“I was never so happy to see the suburbs,” says Hanc.


He says that he had been getting favorable press for his book and had read a positive review of his book in the Boston Globe that morning. Winding up a week of PR, he says, “The race was icing on the cake” but after the explosion, it all felt “inconsequential.”


Hanc, who has written 10 books, including Jones Beach: An Illustrated History and contributed to various publications, including Newsday and Runner’s World, is an avid runner. This was his third time completing the Boston Marathon.

As Long Islanders prepare to race the Long Island Marathon this weekend, thoughts of the tragedy in Boston, less than three weeks earlier are sure to be on their minds.


He has not yet decided if he will run the Long Island Marathon – and if he does, he says it will just be a 10K - though he will be there on Friday night to help kick off the weekend’s festivities, and may also be part of ceremony at the starting line on Sunday honoring Boston.


Marathon directors are planning on erecting a “Long Island Runner’s Support Boston Wall” at the marathon for runners to sign in solidarity with Boston.


Hanc says the Boston Marathon has a certain mystique for two reasons. The history of the event is a large part of the appeal, since the marathon began just one year after the first Olympic marathon was held. And second, you have to demonstrate a certain amount of proficiency in running and actually qualify to participate, which is not the case in any other marathon.


Because of this, he says he was not surprised to hear that the marathon will go on as planned in 2014. Already, he says he has heard people say they want to run Boston next year as a statement of solidarity for the running community.

“It takes more than couple of deranged, misguided creeps to derail a long-held institution.”