Monday April 15, 2013
Patriot’s Day in Boston
Pete and I left our hotel room in Copley Square to walk down Boylston St to meet our mate John. Like the other times I’ve run in Boston, John has managed to get me on to the first VIP bus with past winners. This year was no exception and I had the pleasure of meeting Jack Fultz winner from 1976. We enter the VIP tent with John and keep warm till the police are ready to escort our bus 42 kms to Hopkinton, the start of the Boston marathon.
While most runners are out in the cold in Hopkinton, we had the warmth of the school gym while we waited for our start.
Us with John waiting for the start.
Pete and I were assigned to different corrals for the start, so I went back from Wave 3, 3rd corral to the 6th… which now, in hindsight could have been a godsend. The first corral of Wave 3 was due to start running at 10:40am, corral 6, some time later.
I had given Pete a charity entry to run the marathon for Christmas and the plan was to run the whole 26.2 miles with him…. my long suffering husband. By 13 miles, he was suffering. Was he dehydrated, sapped of all energy, suffering from ITB, possibly gone out too fast? Yes folks, all of the above. I had reminded him a few times that 5 min k’s is not a great idea…..
He was hurting.
We had friends out on the course, first Bill and his sign for us at the halfway mark, then Debbie just a bit further on in Wellesley.
Photo taken by Debbie at the half way point.
It was great to have some locals we knew cheering from the sidelines.
As Pete suffered I managed to hug a Bernese Mountain Dog, Hi 5 the crowd and generally enjoy the day. Just up the top of Heartbreak Hill we saw Bill again and I knew that the rest of the run was pretty much downhill.
John had mentioned that the Citgo sign at around 25 miles tells the runners that they are so close to the finish… Not even seeing that sign made Pete smile. We passed the “1 Mile to go” sign. Running along Commonwealth Ave we were passed by Police motorbikes… Heaps of them. I was a little concerned as I knew they weren’t escorting us as “winners” to the finish line… then the ambos. Lots of ambulances.
A minute later we were stopped in our tracks. 500 metres from the finish line just before we make the right onto Hereford St and then the last left onto Boylston St and the finish line.
Standing around, Pete looked pale, felt sick and had to sit down before he fainted. He was freezing cold and generally looked like shit.
The runners were very calm at first, we heard that there had been an explosion. All those with mobile phones were madly dialling to try to get through to friends at the finish. There were very few able to connect. The news got worse. Some were crying with worry, major confusion and no official giving us info or direction on what to do.
We were in running gear and cold, we were getting snippets of info. This was bad. Somehow, we found John behind us and we decided to get out of the area….. To where?
Poppy (John’s daughter) gave Pete her jacket and we started to walk. John and Poppy decided to drive back to Cambridge and we thought the best thing would be to get back to our hotel….. Yeah, right. We walked towards Boston Common past blood on the pavement, the smell of explosives in the air and the hint of fear in the police. We asked one policeman if we could get through to the Marriott when an announcement out of his radio informed him that there was to be a ” controlled” explosion in 60 seconds. He told us pretty simply that we needed to get outta there. 60 seconds later, there was an explosion.
We kept walking towards Boston Common and then right into Berkeley St to what would be a lot further past the finish line. Starbucks! We were freezing. We had been handed space blankets but the wind was a shocker. Fortunately Pete had a bit of cash and his phone. Our daughter Sal rang from Sydney. How she managed to get through when they were suspending all cellphone coverage in fear of more bombs going off, I have no idea. Great to know that family knew we were safe and together. Coffee and a warm spot to sit for a while… Lots of grit in my eyes. Listened to a guy next to us who was right in the thick of it. He was crying and traumatized and we started to put the enormity of it together.
Next minute, the police evacuated Starbucks… Out into the cold. No warm gear as we couldn’t get to our drop bags which were in the VIP tent at the finish line. Other runners were able to collect theirs out of the school buses lined up further away from the finish area.
We decided to try to get to the Marriott on the other side of the finish. The area was shut off. We were freezing, confused and had buckleys chance of getting into the hotel as it was being evacuated as we tried to approach it. We found a bar…. with only enough money for one drink….
We were freezing. (Have I told you we were cold?) We walked into the bar and the footage on the TV was horrific. I had tears streaming down my face.
How many times had Pete told me to keep going? Maybe the smartest decision I’ve made in a long time was to stay together. We had gone through the 30 km in 2:55 before Pete started to take walking breaks. I may have finished before the tragedy but then we would never have managed to find each other afterwards. I had no phone, hotel key was in my dropbag, no cash, no credit card… BUT, I had my husband. What if Debbie or Bill had been waiting and watching at the finish line?? Thinking about what could have happened makes me sick.
So we had our one drink. Had to move away from two very loud local guys who were actually happy about being evacuated and having to leave work. Not enough $ for a second round, Pete asked the staff if we could give them our visa card # expiry date and ccv # so we could buy some food. We were the only people in the bar in running gear…pretty obvious that we weren’t trying to rip them off? They refused. He put all his cash together to buy me another wine. (amazing what a crying woman can get) It left him with $1.
A young guy came up and gave me 3 marathon t-shirts that I think he’d been given when the Marathon Sports window blew out in the bomb. Another guy gave us some gu. We really must have looked quite desperate.
Two young girls in their 20′s came and talked to us. Molly and Caroline. Molly had been involved in the Boston Marathon marketing until a year or two ago and Caroline was an ER doctor at the Children’s hospital. Molly was really upset by everything that had gone on and Caroline was waiting to be called into the hospital. They were absolute angels.
They made us sit with them and asked what they could do for us. Pete pulled the $1 out of his pocket and begged for a beer. I really wish I had video of that…. So, they gave us beer, wine and food. The most wonderful two people you could ever wish to meet. Generous, warm and caring to two cold, old, sad runners. They wouldn’t allow us to leave without them coming back to make sure we could get into our hotel room, otherwise they were taking two very cold, smelly, penniless old runners back to their place.
Yes, we did look quite desperate…just looked at the photo with Molly and Caroline which was taken when we managed to get through the back entrance of the Marriott around 8pm. The space blanket isn’t quite as stylish as the Skirt Sports gear underneath….
The next day, after very little sleep we ventured out to the closed off streets to try to get our drop bags. It was a war zone.
Photo of the Marriott foyer the morning after.
Cameras, police, bomb squad and yellow tape everywhere. Tents of post race food, Gatorade, bananas and rolls stocked like the race hadn’t finished…
I had no phone or Internet from before the race till Thursday. Pete had email contact but I really sort of shut down. I’m still exhausted. The TV coverage over here has been continuous. How those guys could kill an 8-year-old kid waiting for his dad to finish a marathon makes me sick. I told Pete what I’d like to do to these guys… maybe not what you people want to hear. The dead one got off easy. These two cowards have changed the lives of so many people witness to this and also to sports events worldwide. Arseholes.
So, what good comes out of this after so much despair and devastation?
I have a family that will always be first and foremost in my life. A marathoner lost his 8-year-old son, his 6-year-old daughter has lost a leg and her brother. His wife has sacrificed a child and has some brain injury and a daughter that can’t walk down the aisle at her wedding like ours will in September . The marathoner dad must have the world on his shoulders … What should have been a proud moment has been violated and turned into the most painful day in his life.