It began as a postcard-like April weekend in Boston for PGA Professional Casey Reamer of Pebble Beach, Calif. He was getting in a round of golf at The Country Club in Brookline, site of Francis Ouimet's historic U.S. Open triumph in 1913 and the 1999 U.S. Ryder Cup Team's unforgettable moment in the sun.
On Monday, April 15, Patriots Day in Beantown, the 41-year-old Reamer capped his first visit to the city by running in the Boston Marathon. As events unfolded at 2:50 p.m. that day, the marathon – one of the world's sporting jewels – would quickly transform into a scene of tragedy. A pair of terrorist bombings, 13 seconds apart along Boylston Street – and the first just yards from the finish line – would claim three lives and injure nearly 180.
Though Reamer had never been an avid runner, he wanted to run a marathon before he turned 40. He achieved that goal by completing the 2011 Ventura (Calif.) Marathon, after which he caught the running "bug." He went on to compete in the April 2012 Big Sur and October 2012 Chicago Marathons.
He completed the Chicago Marathon in 3 hours, 21 minutes, bettering his Ventura finish of 3:32. He also ran a 3:45 at Big Sur. By most runner's standards, those times indicated that he could hold his own on Boston's challenging track.
The PGA head professional at Cypress Point Club, Reamer was one of 210 entrants running to support one special organization, the Boston Children's Hospital.
"I felt pretty good on the first half of the race," says Reamer, who completed the 13.2 miles in 1 hour, 44 minutes. "I decided I did not want to press any harder the rest of the way and try to enjoy the finish."
Reamer finished the Boston Marathon in 3 hours, 45 minutes, 25 seconds, joining the 75 percent of the original race field who had completed the Marathon at that point. As the images would later repeat to a stunned world, a clock above the finish line flashed 4:09:43 as the first bomb was detonated. Reamer said that he was standing 1½ blocks away from the finish line.
"When the first bomb went off, someone thought that it was a cannon to commemorate Patriots Day," says Reamer. "But, I had no mistake what it was. The sound was unmistakable to me by how deep it shook the ground. There was no mistake by anyone as the second bomb went off.
"There was no one being allowed to move back to the scene to attempt to help, as it was cordoned off pretty completely and quickly. I had received 51 texts on my cell phone from family and friends, concerned for my safety."
Reamer's wife, Amanda, had not made the trip. She was home in California, eight months pregnant with the couple's second child.
Reamer said that some youth supporting Boston Children's Hospital were positioned near the finish line cheering the runners. "We heard that there were some children who came out to support the runners were among the injured," says Reamer. "That was very tough news for us. We all became very concerned about our group as the roll call went on in a conference room at the Westin Hotel. We learned later that all members of our group were safe."
Reamer was able to get to Boston Logan International Airport later that afternoon and make his flight home to California. Those 210 runners, many of whom were unable to complete the marathon, did accomplish one big goal - they collectively raised $1.4 million for the hospital.
"It is sad that people would do such a thing to hurt other people," says Reamer. "What I was able to see of Boston, it is one of our greatest cities. It was great to see and to hear how many people were helping one another through it all."
Reamer said that the tragic events of April 15 will not prevent him from going back to Boston.
"I will return one day to see more of that great city, but not to run a marathon," he says. "I want to save my knees and legs for golf."