I’m still trying to sort out what happened yesterday as some evil, horrendous persons inflicted their terrible deeds on a group of innocent men, women and children who were gathered near the Boston Marathon finishing line to celebrate the greatness in humanity – our dedication, determination, inspiration and charity. The day was so different before and after the bomb blasts.
In the mid-morning I entered names and race numbers of some friends and coaching clients into the BAA website’s Athlete Tracker area so I could follow their progress as the computer devices recorded times every five kilometers. Jim Musante was running his 33rd consecutive Boston Marathon. Michelle Keane and Ed Wood were running to finish at a conservative pace as they hadn’t been able to train at their usual level. Heather Schultz had dipped under three hours for the first two times late last year and hoped to do the same at Boston. My friend, Wesley Korir, had won last year’s Boston Marathon and I hoped he might repeat.
I followed the leaders and my friends for several hours. Wesley ran strong, but ended up in fifth place. Heather did break three hours for the first time in Boston. Jim finished his 33rd straight Boston Marathon. Michelle had passed the 40k checkpoint and had just over a mile to go. Ed wasn’t far behind her. This is what was transpiring before 2:50 p.m.
Then the news started appearing on the internet that there was a bombing at the Boston Marathon. Soon video was streaming and it was beyond comprehension. On Boylston Street where I had finished 12 Boston Marathons was a scene out of a war. An explosion sent fire and smoke skyward. Spectators disappeared behind a wall of smoke as some runners were knocked to the ground by the shock wave. Amazingly at that moment Dick Hoyt was pushing his wheelchair-bound son Rick across the line as they have done over 30 times before.
My thoughts went in many directions and I wondered where Michelle and Ed were. Stories over the next few hours were gruesome and tragic as we learned three people died and many lost limbs. Friends were texting me, texting my wife, sending Facebook messages and calling to see if I was in Boston for the marathon. All were relieved to find that I was not. Family friend Olivia Papa is a junior at MIT and was near the blast – about 100 yards away and I found out during a tearful phone call from her mom that she was uninjured. During the evening Michelle’s sister and Ed’s son both posted on Facebook that they were okay – some good news.
This morning I spoke with Michelle on the phone as she preared to fly home to Cleveland and got a few more details. She was coming down the home stretch at Boylston Street and was at the 26 mile point when the first bomb went off. She said everyone around her – runners and spectators immediately ran in the opposite direction as they didn’t know if there was gunfire or what was happening.
It is so sad that there are agents of satan on this earth who have nothing better to do than to cause sorrow and hurt. Munich, Colombine, the Twin Towers and more evoke instant images of the worst in mankind. Local Orlando journalist Jerry Greene noted on the radio today that when an imposter pretended to win the Boston Marathon in 1980 he thought that was the worst thing that could happen on race day and now he was sadly very wrong. I hate that someone or some group has taken a joyous day and substituted grief. I am pretty numb from the entire experience, but hopeful in the promise of tomorrow.