News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 26, 2013

Hughes, News & Views: Terre Haute runner sets up race to help Boston

David Hughes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Having competed in the Boston Marathon once before in 2003, 35-year-old Majel Wells of Terre Haute thought she should give it another try in 2013.

“My goal was just to finish and enjoy Boston,” she reflected this week. “I had an injury [runner’s knee] beforehand, so I wasn’t too worried about beating my time from 2003 [4 hours, 10.20 seconds].

“But nobody cares about what your time is at Boston anyway.”

From what I’ve heard over the years, she’s right. Unless you’re a super-serious runner, the Boston Marathon has been more about taking in the atmosphere and having fun than placing in the top 50, although Wells was pleased that she beat her previous time by finishing in 3:55.19 on April 15.

Obviously, her race time wasn’t the most vivid memory that Wells took away from her 2013 Boston experience.

Two bomb blasts near the finish line, which killed three people and injured an estimated 264 runners, spectators and helpers, occurred about a block from Wells roughly 10 minutes after she finished.

“When you finish the marathon, you walk with the other finishers through a corral of fencing, where you get water and get food,” she noted. “So I was about one city block away. I was in a crowded group of people, so I didn’t initially hear the bombs.”

Once she made her way through that area, she collected her personal belongings that she brought to the race and called her 16-year-old daughter Katlin Childress, who was with Wells’ husband Tim, Tim’s parents and friend Todd Mankin in the “family waiting area” in Boston while she noticed other people acting strange.

“Everyone around me was confused,” Wells mentioned.

Later, Wells received a call from Mankin, who informed her the family waiting area had been evacuated because of two explosions near the finish line.

A nervous Wells used phone conversations to eventually re-connect with her family and friends a few blocks away, but their troubles weren’t over.

“It was very confusing,” Wells recalled. “Nobody at the time really knew what happened. We started walking. People were talking about it. There were no cabs, so we walked 3 1/2 miles to our hotel [the Renaissance Boston Waterfront].”

The Wells crew stayed overnight in the hotel, gradually figuring out from television news reports and texts from concerned Terre Haute friends what had transpired at the end of the marathon.

“I was glued to that TV,” she admitted. “I was still in the city. We were so scared. We could barely sleep that night.”

Wells and her family and friends left Boston and headed back to Terre Haute the next morning.

Now relieved that the bombing suspects have been dealt with, Wells wants to focus on something positive, which she calls “Giving from the Wabash Valley to Boston.”

Wells, a market master for the Downtown Terre Haute Farmers Market as well as a part-time employee for Big Picture Printing, has organized the “Memorial 1-Mile Run/Walk For Boston” to take place at 2 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

There is no entry fee, but monetary donations of any amount will be accepted from runners and spectators at a table near the stadium’s main entrance. Wells said all proceeds will be mailed to One Fund Boston Inc., which was formed by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino.

“It will be an informal 1-mile run around the stadium,” Wells emphasized, adding that the short notice of this event should not prevent anyone from participating.

“It’s a fundraiser to help those families affected by the tragic events at 117th Boston Marathon. You can take as many laps as you want, but we’re just doing one lap as the memorial.”

A mother of two daughters, Wells explained why she wanted to put on this event.

“When I came back, I felt compelled to do something,” she said. “I know we have a great community and I know people wanted to do something. I wanted to provide people with answers on how they could help.

“This isn’t just for runners. It’s for the whole community being good neighbors. Boston might be thousands of miles away, but they are our neighbors. They’re a community, just like ours.”

No arguments here. Even if you’re a Colts fan who can’t stand the New England Patriots (yours truly) or a Yankees fan who detests the Boston Red Sox (Merv Hendricks), this would be a good way to show you’re a fan of human life regardless of geographic location.

For more information about the “Memorial 1-Mile Run/Walk for Boston,” call Wells at 812-243-5922.

And if you’re unable to attend Saturday, Wells said donations can be made through the national website.

David Hughes can be reached after 4 p.m. by phone at 812-231-4224 or 1-800-783-8742, Option 4; by email at; or by fax at 812-231-4321.