Let me start by saying my heart goes out to everyone affected by the tragic events that occurred at the finish line.
I was not at the finish line when the bombs went off. I was in a hotel a couple of blocks away. Most of our group including myself had already crossed the finish line and our thoughts were on hot showers and cold beer. We heard the blast but it was several minutes before we knew what it was.
With a group of 20 runners plus friends and family the first priority was to make sure everyone was ok and accounted for. Cell phone coverage was intermittent at best but we found finish times for or located 19 of the 20 runners and their friends and family within the first hour.
When you are in the middle of something you don’t realize how big it is. But it was becoming apparent that something truly terrible had happened, and we were still missing a runner. Her projected finish time would have put her in the area and we still could not find her. We were ready to call the 1-800 number for missing Canadians when we found her safe and sound. She was 300m from the finish line when they stopped her because the bomb had gone off. Speaking to her later she said she knew she was not going to reach her goal time so she slowed down for the last couple of miles to enjoy the crowds. Thank goodness she did.
This was my 10th trip to The Boston Marathon and many of our group have done the race several times as well. The reason we come back every year is the people of Boston. The support for this race is amazing. Through good years and bad the people of Boston are out there cheering on the runners and turning the entire course into a giant celebration of running. Even off the course the people are friendly and encouraging, total strangers will stop you in the street to congratulate you. This year they went beyond that. Offering up their homes to people who needed a place to stay. Lining up to give blood and generally reaching out to others.
Our runner who was stopped just before the finish line found herself cold and tiered in the street with no money (you don’t usually get a chance to buy anything during the race). She went into a restaurant and asked if she could come in to get warm they welcomed her, got her tea and let her use their phone to contact her husband. When we went out to find food in the evening (a bit of a challenge as we were just outside the blocked off area). We were stopped by people who wanted to make sure we were ok and another member of our group who got stranded at the finish when the subways were shut down was driven 20km back to his hotel by a series of local residents.
The final word goes to the man who came up to me while I was standing outside the hotel waiting for my ride. He came over and said “Please come back next year” . I told him we would be back and we will be!
Thank you Boston.