Archer said he had finished the race and had gone to get lunch with his wife about a half-mile away from the finish line when a waitress informed them of the explosions. Within an hour of crossing the finish line, Archer said, the streets on which he had just spent hours running were flooded with emergency personnel and police.
“We started hearing a lot of law enforcement and emergency vehicles start flying by in front of the restaurant with sirens going off, and people in the restaurant started gathering around the televisions and watching what had happened,” Archer said. “Of course there were still thousands of people, even out on the course, when the explosions happened.
“... The magnitude of it had still not sunk in for me. I was telling my wife that at one point on the race course I couldn’t do simple math in my head anymore for calculating finish times and where I was because of exhaustion, and I think that probably had a lot to do with my mental state of not realizing what had happened.”
He said he was surprised by how the thousands in attendance reacted to the aftermath of the explosions.
“The crowds were moving in a direction away from the finish line at that point and the crowds weren’t anything I would have expected ... nobody was in a panic at that point,” Archer said, adding the couple then went back to their hotel.
The next day, as scheduled, the couple returned to Cartersville, and Archer said he and his wife did not encounter any delays at the airport due to additional security.
Now back in Cartersville, Archer plans to continue his routine of running.
“I was a distance runner in high school and in the past few years I’ve gone back to running for fitness,” Archer said. “In November of 2011, I decided for my birthday I wanted to start running marathons again and ran a marathon in Savannah and had a time that was a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon.”
No stranger to large-scale races, Archer said he has participated in the Peachtree Road Race on numerous occasions. He said while the 26.2-mile Boston Marathon hosted nearly twice as many runners, the community reached out to participants with well wishes.
“The town, from the start line to the finish, people come out all along the race course. With Peachtree you’ve got 10 kilometers of people lining the street, but with Boston, it’s 26 miles of people lining the streets cheering for you,” Archer said. “It’s incredible.
“In the days leading up to the marathon, we went up Friday and were touring around Boston over the weekend, the citizens of Boston would randomly walk up to you and wish you luck. Everybody was excited for that day and that event for the town.”
While the excitement surrounding the event was a distraction for many runners, Archer said he was still able to pull a personal best time of three hours, 18 minutes and 27 seconds.
“My training was not what I considered ‘peak level’ and I was nervous that I would not perform well at all, but I think the energy of the race itself propelled me to be able to make that personal record,” Archer said.