Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boston Marathon Race Report, 2013.

2:15 p.m.  I had just collected my gear from the bus and put on my warmer clothes.  I was wet and cold and my plans to stick around and cheer on runners while waiting to see John finish was sounding like a very bad idea.  I could not stop shivering. I only packed a long sleeve T-shirt and it was not enough to block the wind.  I hear an announcement about the location of the busses to back to Hopkinton, which I was hoping to find so I walked over and got on figuring John would understand why I left. 

2:25 pm.  Busses started moving and we were on our way.  

2:45 p.m.  Explosions at the finish, but I am on the road already.

3:05 p.mAnn K sends me a message... “Are You Guys Ok?”  “What’s wrong with Ann?" I think. Just 25 minutes prior she sent me a text congratulating me on a good run.  Why is she now asking me if we were ok? Why does she think I am not ok?   

“Something Exploded here!” Ann clarifies.   Now I'm getting worried for her.  Ann was spectating.  She is a passionate New Jersey TNT Runner who traveled up in Boston to watch her friends run.  I still didn't understand the gravity and think “Maybe a water main blew? Maybe a boiler in a building?” I hope she is safe. 

“They are evacuating us!” She adds.   OMG, evacuation. What is going on there. The phones of my fellow bus-mates are buzzing like crazy now.  Others were reporting the same.   

3:08 p.m. John, my friend and training partner was able to secure two actual Invitational Entries to Boston.  He invited Enrique, a fellow TNT runner along to join him.  Enrique brought his wife to cheer!  I text John. “Call me ASAP when you get this to let me know you are OK.”

3:10 pm.  I update FB to say something exploded at the finish line and I am NOT there. 

3:08-3:15 p.m. Texts, FB messages, emails, posts are piling in faster than I can handle them. All asking me if I am safe.

3:15 p.mMichele, John’s friend who I just met yesterday when she housed me for the event, has collected me from Hopkinton State Park. She has no idea. I update her.   “Something has exploded at the finish, people are being evacuated, I don’t know where John or Enrique are on the course.  I know John does not have his phone.  I know he should have been close to the finish line. They may have been there!” I tell her. 

3:15-3:20 p.m.  My phone and now Michele’s phone is going nuts.  I call my family to tell them I am safe. 

3:20 p.m. We are back at Michele.  In the short time I have known Michele I already know she is a fast thinker and a problem solver.  She bolts to the computer and starts reviewing chip data of Enrique and John.  She quickly deduces that there is no way they could have reached the finish line in time to be harms way.  (There invitational entries required them to start at the back of wave 3). 

I know from my pre-race conversation with John that he was checking his phone in his gear bag and leaving it on the bus to get it at the finish.  I realize John has no phone and his wife is probably having a melt down.  

3:20-3:33 p.m.  Before I can call Jenn, I get a few more calls from friends and I let them know I am safe.  Everytime the phone rings I hope it is John. It is not. 

3:33 p.m.  I call Jenn, John’s wife, to tell her that I know John did not get all the way to the finish line at the time of the explosion, I know he does not have his phone, but I don’t know where he is.  John has been brilliant and borrowed a cell phone which he used to call his wife.  Good Man!  I know he is safe.  We don’t know where Enrique is, but we know he was behind John. 

News reports another bomb at the JFK library in a different part of Boston.  We don’t know when this will stop, but Michele and I want to get John and Enrique and Gaby out of there, but  we don’t know where they are.

3:40 p.m. We are trying to figure out how to reach Enrique’s wife.  Michele and I know that Gaby, Enrique’s wife, was planning to get herself to the finish line to see Enrique gloriously complete his first and maybe only Boston.  I don’t have Enrique’s number. Enrique is John’s friend. I only just met him for a 60 seconds at the Village, pre-race.  I never met Gaby.  But these were the NJ TNT people that were connected to me here at Boston and I was not leaving until I knew where everyone was.  I try to call Ann back, but she is not answering and I know she has evacuated.  She has been texting so I believe she is ok.

3:45 p.m.  Michele is scanning Facebook to try to leave a message somewhere. I post a note on TNT’s page reporting that I am worried about Enrique’s wife.  Enrique’s page is set up for maximum privacy so we cant get a note on his page or read any updates.  I call Jenn to see if she had Gaby’s number.  No luck.  

4:00 p.m. Phones are buzzing off the hook with FB messages, emails, text, calls from people trying to confirm I am safe. None from John.

4:20 p.m.  I remember that Enrique is a TNT runner.  That is where John met him.  I call Sue, our TNT coach. She is in NJ. I ask her if anyone can pull Enrique’s file. I know he had to fill out a application with emergency contact.  I assumed he would put his wife’s contact info or at least someone who knew her number.  Sue is a great help and calls several TNT staff. Finally she gets Margo, who forwards me a phone number.   

4:45 p.m. I get the forwarded number from Margo. I assume it is for Gaby so I leave a message.  As I hang up I remember John telling me that Gaby actually is not a native English speaker and I am not sure she will understand what I am saying or even call me back. 

4:45 - 5:00 pm.  My cell battery is dying from the sheer volume of communication.  I plug it in to charge it and scan FB on my Ipad for messages about John, Enrique, and Gaby.  Michele is doing the same.  There is nothing there that helps us find them. We don’t know what to do but the phone calls, texts, messages, keeps us busy.

5:00 pm. I call Jenn back. I leave a message to ask her to please call me if she learns that John or Enrique have left Boston because I was not leaving until I found them. 

5:20 p.m. Jenn calls me back. She tells me John made contact with her.  He got to his gear bag. He has his phone.  He made contact with Enrique and Enrique talked to Gaby.  John is still stuck in Boston, she doesn’t know where.  We want to get him out of there.  She reports that he plans to call us soon.

5:25 pm. John calls Michele while I am still talking to Jenn.  Michele, a local Bostonian, tells John how to walk to MIT where Michele works. This is a location she believes we can physically drive to.  We dont know what to expect.  I overhear her saying she doesn’t want to ask him to go to far because she worries he is likely tired from the run. I reassure her John is an ultrarunner and she can send him as far as she need to to get him out of there.  He can walk.  He can run if he needs to.  She gives him directions.

We jump in my car because I have more room and figure we will try to collect Enrique and Gaby as well.  Michele directs me to avoid areas she things will be crowded or dangerous. 

From the news we learn they have found two more devices that failed to detonate.  

6:00 p.m. We are getting close and make decisions to bypass some bridges, worried that maybe things are not done being blown up. Radio is giving us latest reports, which are repeating the same information. Two explosions on the course, two undetonated devices found, one explosion at JFK Library... etc.   The injured tally has gone from 22, to 43, to 57... 

6:30 p.m.  We get into Boston. I step out of my car realizing my bib is still pinned and I am still in my racing gear.  We find John sitting on a bench.  He is safe but looks tired.  He reports that he contacted Enrique and he and Gaby are safe and returning to the training center.  

I tell him that I was planning to wait for him at the finish line!  But I was cold and wet from dumping water on me during the race.  My t-shirt was not warm enough so I decided to look for the bus and heard an announcement for it.  If I wasn’t so cold I would have been there at the finish. I told him I was worried he was there. I knew he should have been btw 20-40 minute behind me in real time, and with his delayed start maybe a bit longer.  If he had a great race I knew he could have been there at the finish when it blew.  

7:30 p.m.  It takes about hour to get back to Michele's as we sit in traffic of those still trying to evacuate, of which we are now included.  We see lights and sirens traveling back in towards Boston. That is not a good sign.  We listen to the radio to see if something else blew up.  The news reports the injured count is rising. Two are reported to have died, over 100 injured. 

7:45 p.m.  Everyone I know is finally accounted for. John is safely out of Boston.  I finally get a shower.  I am starving. 

8:00 p.m. I check a few more Voicemails, answer some texts and then begin my journey home to NJ.  One stop at Dunkin Donuts for my first "real" meal (bagel and hot chocolate) all day.  I head home. 

12:00 a.m.  I make good time and get home just about midnight, update my FB status that I made it back.

Tuesday morning John reports that Gaby was near the finish line, but stopped to use the rest room at a resturant when everything outside blew up.  I am glad my friends are safe.  I am so sorry for those who were trapped in harms way.  I sincerely hope justice gets served and whoever is responsible is held accountable for this horrifying travesty.

As for my plans: I ran a BQ last November that is about 24 minutes below my BQ time... I fully expect to be there next year.


  1. Shannon, your concern for others first is what sets you and so many other distance runners apart from the rest. I'm so sorry you had this experience, and this whole thing is just so offensive in a very personal way, but at the same time it's amazing to see what an incredible family we runners all are for each other. Bless your safety & that of all of our friends and family, and thoughts and prayers to those who were not so fortunate.

    1. Thank you Wendy. I was safe, just worried for others and fearful of what else might blow up. Once JFK was deemed an unrelated fire, it calmed some of the worry that more explosion were to happen.

  2. Words cannot describe how relieved I was to get a reply to my text from you. And then through Facebook, I learned quickly that all my other friends were safe - one was at 25.8 miles, wow. The relief and joy that everyone I knew was OK, quickly turned to sadness and anger because so many that I did not know were not OK.

    It does not surprise me in the slightest that you will be back next year.

  3. thanks Shannon...excellent summary of Boston 2013

  4. Your entries were well-drawn. I'm glad you're safe.

  5. Thanks so much for a such a detailed report and update. So glad you ran and your friends and made it out safe and sound.