2013-04-18 / Sports

S-B runner returns from Boston with vivid memories

By Mike Spencer Of The Enterprise staff


MIKE JARVIS, and his wife, Lynne, both Leelanau School employees, are pictured at the finish line Sunday prior to the Monday’s Boston Marathon. MIKE JARVIS, and his wife, Lynne, both Leelanau School employees, are pictured at the finish line Sunday prior to the Monday’s Boston Marathon. When Mike Jarvis returns this week to Suttons Bay, the 50-year-old counselor/runner can cross the Boston Marathon off his bucket list.

The harder part will be erasing some of the painful memories of finishing the 26.2 mile journey with a broken hip and then seeing terror strike minutes after he completed the race.

“I think I got a really good dose of humility,” said Jarvis, who finished the marathon in 3 hours, 40 minutes and 17 seconds. “But I’m so touched by the network of care and decency.

“There were many people who helped ... starting with those who helped me to the finish line to those in the treatment tent before all the freaking out in trauma. It was amazing.”

Jarvis, who was in the medical tent when two bombs went off near the finish line Monday, was not injured by the blasts.


MIKE JARVIS, 50, of Suttons Bay, posed in front of the Boston Marathon finish line Sunday night. On Monday, he finished the marathon just before two bombs went off. MIKE JARVIS, 50, of Suttons Bay, posed in front of the Boston Marathon finish line Sunday night. On Monday, he finished the marathon just before two bombs went off. Thousands of runners were still on the course. The bombs killed three and injured at least 113, turning the city’s most celebrated event into a grisly spectacle of shattered glass, blood and screams.

The Leelanau School counselor, who was in Boston with his wife, Lynne, and son, Forest, was treated at Newton Wellesley Hospital for a possible broken leg from running the race. Turns out, he broke his hip. He had surgery early Tuesday morning and was expected to be released from the hospital yesterday.

Besides suffering the most excruciating physical pain in his life while being escorted to the finish line by a Marine and another runner who had already finished, Jarvis had to deal with the emotional uncertainty when he heard the bombs go off.

“I was a little bit on the edge already,” said Jarvis, who was in the medical tent filled with volunteers, including a lot of students who were expecting to deal with hypothermia, dehydration and cramps and not a broken leg before the explosions.

Jarvis thinks he injured his hip or leg in training a couple of weeks before the marathon. He took a week off before the race and was feeling OK for the first 24 miles.

“I didn’t feel terrible and I was where I wanted to be,” said Jarvis, who was running 7:28 miles through the first half of the marathon. “Then around 24 miles, it really loosened up and I started picking up the pace.”

Jarvis slowed down to a 8:15 pace with less than a mile to go when the pain got “real intense.”

“I started running slower and slower and then just fell,” he said. “I couldn’t move.”

Another runner who had completed the race helped Jarvis up and took him by the shoulder. Then a Marine also grabbed the other shoulder.

“I literally took three steps and stopped the rest of the way, the pain was so substantial,” he said.

When he finished, he couldn’t bear any weight. He was put in a wheelchair and put in the medical tent.

When the bombs went off, runners were asked to leave the tent. But Jarvis couldn’t walk on his own. Initially, Jarvis was put in the back of the tent on a cot. Later he was wheeled into the Boston streets.

“I don’t want to say it was chaos, it wasn’t people running around panicking,” Jarvis said. “But most weren’t trained in emergency medicine and they didn’t even have any drugs to give me for pain.”

Jarvis said he saw some of those injured from the bomb blasts in the medical tent, including those without legs or arms, but then was sent out.

“It was cold and windy and all I had were my wet clothes from running,” said Jarvis, who had dry clothes on a baggage bus a couple blocks away. “But nobody knew if they could go anywhere.”

Although volunteers asked if they could help him, none were able to. Jarvis texted his wife to let her know he was OK, but he got no response because cell service was down. He eventually hooked up with his wife and son at the family meeting area.

“It was a good three hours of being pushed around in the streets of Boston,” Jarvis said. “I’m not critical, but it was kind of weird having everyone looking at me.

“They could see I was hurt but couldn’t help me.”

Jarvis said the “unknowns,” started playing with his head.

“They were looking for bombs and I was feeling pretty uncomfortable about the situation,” he said. “There were a lot of rumors.

“We heard they found a bomb in a train, one in a library and then another place. There was a lot of stuff going around.”

Jarvis went through a roller-coaster of emotions.

“It was the worst feeling,” he said. “There’s my physical condition — dehydration, hypothermia and pain — and not knowing where my wife and son were.

“They had planned to see me finish. They might have been near the finish line when the bombs went off and who knew if they were OK.”

When he finally met up with his family, about an hour after the bombings, there was a sense of relief.

“It’s like my whole body just released,” he said. “There was a huge emotional wall that went down and there was a sobbing fest in the streets.”

Jarvis said his son and wife “were remarkably” supportive through his ordeal. Forest, who is a sophomore at Middlebury College in Vermont, was back in class today.

“I’m doing pretty well,” said Forest, who saw his dad at the 18-mile mark. “I think it really hasn’t sunk in yet.

“It’s a big thing for me to comprehend.”

Forest was a couple blocks away when the bombs went off.

“I thought it could have been an explosion, but that would be unfathomable and ridiculous,” Forest said. “At first there was confusion and then quiet.

“Some thought it was a train wreck, nobody was really sure what happened.”

Forest said he went to a class on Tuesday, but it seemed surreal.

While Forest said he had a lot of thought’s about Monday’s tragedy, he will remember one thing for life.

“What struck me most is the way a community of complete strangers came together with random acts of kindness,” he said.

When Jarvis got to the hospital, he was the only marathoner there. He waited only about 10 minutes to be seen and it was determined quickly that he had a broken hip.

He had surgery about 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

Now he thinks he’ll recover and perhaps run another marathon in Boston.

“Before I came to Boston this was one of those things on my bucket list,” he said. “Now I can say I’ve done that.”

If Jarvis returns, he expects it to be a fundraiser for a Deep Water Education project.

“I sort of want to go back to Boston to (confront) the people who wanted to do something like this to Boston,” he said.

Jarvis is on his way home, having not celebrated the marathon like he had planned.

“My plan was to pick up the medal, bask in the moment a little bit and be there with my wife and son and then go somewhere and celebrate,” he said. “I’m still waiting on that.”

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