What was supposed to be a celebration of running and health yesterday for Boston marathon participants and their families/friends turned out to be a war zone. Two loud blasts went off at 2:50 pm near the finish line – Boylston Street, just off Copley Square. A second bomb followed a few seconds later just 100 feet away. There was a huge cloud of smoke. Participants and their loved ones were sent running for cover.
It was over four hours and nine minutes into the race when the two explosions went off. There was absolute panic and chaos and phone lines were down, which prevented participants and family from contacting each other.
In the New York Times yesterday, Roupen Bastajian, 35, a Rhode Island state trooper and former Marine, recounted: “These runners just finished and they don’t have legs now. So many of them. There are so many people without legs. It’s all blood. There’s blood everywhere. You got bones, fragments. It’s disgusting.”
Three people are confirmed dead, including an 8-year-old boy now identified as Martin Richard. He was there watching his father run. There are over 100 people injured.
In a recent interview via email, Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon in 1967, shared her story:
“It was awful. I had just finished a five hour broadcast and left the finish line and was back at my hotel when it happened, so I was safe and so was Roger (her husband) in the hotel press room. The hotel went into lockdown so we watched on TV and from our window. I am grateful not to be hurt but so sad for the tragedy and destruction of others.”
“We will mourn the dead and injured. I also mourn the Boston Marathon and how it’s now been brutally disfigured.”
Switzer adds, “The Boston Marathon matters in a way other sporting events simply do not. It started in 1897, inspired by the first modern marathon, which took place at the inaugural 1896 Olympics. It attracts 500,000 spectators and over 20,000 participants from 96 countries. Every year, on the big day, the Red Sox play a game that starts at the wacky hour of 11:05 a.m. so people leaving the game can empty onto Kenmore Square and cheer on the finishers. It’s not about celebrating stars but the ability to test your body against the 26.2 mile course, which covers eight separate Massachusetts towns and the infamous ‘Heartbreak Hill’ in Newton. It’s as much New England in spring as the changing of the leaves in fall. It’s open and communitarian and utterly unique.”
There were about 23,000 runners—2000 of whom were Canadian— who crossed the finish line before the first bomb went off.
The Boston Marathon will never be the same.