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updated: 4/15/2013 7:06 PM

St. Charles runner escapes tragedy with fast finish

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It was only the speed with which Tim Arends of St. Charles ran that saved him and his family from more direct involvement with the Boston Marathon bombings.

Arends and his wife and two sons were in a restaurant three blocks away when the bombs detonated. They didn't even hear the blasts. Only the images of the panic on television screens at the restaurant informed them that they'd narrowly escaped being at the heart of a tragedy. Just an hour earlier, Arends' family cheered him on from a spot very near the site of the explosions.

"It leaves you thinking, had someone chose to detonate those bombs an hour earlier, the impact that it could have had on my family is frightening," Arends said.

On the walk back to the hotel, it was clear this was not the atmosphere of the Boston Marathon Arends enjoyed in earlier years.

"At first, it was the usual celebration," Arends said. "Everyone is happy. You literally have 26 miles of crowds that are at least a couple people deep. Then you look on TV. It is very somber now. Everyone around town is acting very cautious."

Arends said even at his hotel, security checked everyone coming into the building to make sure they were actual guests. That added security gave Arends a sense that he and has family would be safe, but the shock of the bombing had him already second-guessing how long he would stay in Boston or if he would return. Arends said the whole experience of the race is forever changed for him.

"You never know," Arends said. "We were just thinking about next year. We'll have to decide, if we come back, do you want to put your whole family at risk?"

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