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Cottage Grove runner thankful for his safety, first responders' work after Boston Marathon bombing

Dan Delaney of Cottage Grove is pictured on Boylston Street near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. He finished the marathon about 45 minutes before two bombs exploded near the finish line. Submitted photo

Coincidences are often viewed in hindsight as serendipitous occurrences that can change an outcome. If that's the case, one big coincidence might have saved Cottage Grove runner Dan Delaney's life.

Three hours into the Boston Marathon on Monday, Delaney, 51, was in the home stretch of the race. The lifelong athlete was a marathon runner of many area races and was excited to run the famous New England course for the first time.

Crossing the finish line shortly after 1:30 p.m., Delaney was lucky to escape the choreographed explosions without any injury, thanks to what he called a blessing in disguise.

"My wife Sally and I were trying to find our two friends from Hastings who had come with us. We were going to meet between Dartmouth and Claredon streets," Delaney said. Their meeting spot: Finagle A Bagel on Boylston Street, a funny named shop that will forever be engrained in their minds. "It was about a block and a half from the finish line on the same side as where the explosions happened."

But a simple miscommunication about the meeting spot actually reunited the couple with their friends much sooner than expected, a coincidence that allowed the group to depart the bustling Copley Square quicker.

"After the race, it took me about 30 minutes to get through everything," Delaney said. "They ended up seeing me from behind."

They snapped a few pictures on the now infamous Boylston and Berkeley streets and the two couples boarded the subway and were headed back to their hotel, approximately three-quarters of a mile from the marathon's finish line and 45 minutes before the attack.

"We didn't find out about the explosions until we got back to our hotel," Delany said. "I was getting texts from family and friends asking if we were all OK. It was just so sad to think that this happened. My wife and I both got sort of emotional when we heard the news."

Like most people trying to pull some kind of positive out of unspeakable tragedy, Delany said the day's events only made him to believe stronger that there is more good in the world than bad.

"You could see on television just how well the first responders really did," he said. "They responded right away even though they didn't know what was going on. People still helped other people. The thing about something like this is people really step up in a time of need."

Despite the ending not being what Delany expected for his first Boston Marathon, he still left with an incredible sense of pride in not only himself for finishing the 26.2 miles, but also in the brave men and women who helped out on the streets of Boston.

"This was an awesome experience," he said. "It's just unfortunate that the explosions had to happen."