Sawyer librarian was two blocks from bomb site

Apr. 19, 2013

A Sturgeon Bay woman running her first Boston Marathon finished the race about 15 minutes ahead of Monday’s bombing.

At least three people were killed and more than 170 were injured after two explosive devices went off around 2:50 p.m. EDT near the finish line of the race on Boylston Street in Boston.

On Thursday the FBI released images of two men, wearing baseball caps and carrying backpacks, that are suspected of leaving the explosives at the finish line. Within hours one of the suspects was killed in a shootout with police and a massive manhunt was on for the other.

At the time of the explosions Jolene Wilson, a library associate at Sawyer Elementary School in Sturgeon Bay, had already crossed the finish line, received her medal and blanket, and walked about two blocks to retrieve her belongings from the buses that had dropped the runners off at the start of the race.

“I heard this boom that sounded like a cannon to me. We all turned and looked (and saw) this giant puff of white smoke,” Wilson said Thursday. She thought it was part of the marathon celebration.

After about 15 seconds another explosion went off and people began to become tense, she said. Cellphones allowed many of the runners to know in less than a minute what had happened.

“A woman really close to me right away said, ‘There were bombs. Bombs went off,’” she said.

Wilson came to Boston accompanied by her daughters, Brandi and Kacie Wilson who live in the Milwaukee area, and her best friend, Carol Mulinix of Sturgeon Bay. She passed the three women around the 24-mile mark, where they were watching the race. The group had arranged to meet on a corner near the Boston Common.

After getting her gear, Wilson hurried to the pre-arranged spot still in her running clothes and a blanket around her shoulders.

“I thanked God. That’s probably one of the first things I said when I got together with my family,” she said.

The next obstacle the group faced was getting back to their hotel 4 miles away. They decided against taking the T and could not find a taxi. So they walked. Kacie is 7 months pregnant and Wilson was worn out from the 26-mile race.

As they walked Kacie and Brandi contacted their dad, Dave Wilson, in Sturgeon Bay to let him know they were all OK.

Once back in the hotel, the four women stayed glued to the TV for the next four hours watching the coverage of the bombing.

“We had a great time up until that point. It was an adventure for us,” Wilson said. “The race was great.”

Wilson did qualify to run the marathon again. Her time was 3 hours and 53 minutes.

She’s unsure whether she will run another Boston Marathon.

“It’s quite expensive, but I would not be afraid to do it again. I might be a little afraid but I wouldn’t let it stop me,” she said.

Thursday was her first day back to work.

“The kids were all excited. (I was) totally focused on the positive ... There were a few that had questions. I tried to give them short answers,” she said.

The family is still discussing Monday’s events.

“We’re still talking among ourselves about how unreal it is that we were basically in the middle of a terrorist attack,” Wilson said.

Contact Samantha Hernandez at or (920) 743-3321, Ext. 112.

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