Boston Marathon sends local shockwaves
The shockwaves of the Boston Marathon bombing were felt across the world and the Marshall area did not escape the blasts.
Area runners, both at the marathon and at home, were instantly affected by what happened. Even though they all came away unharmed, they still felt the pain.
“I felt like we were attacked,” said Marie Sample, who has run countless marathons, including the 2008 Olympic trials. “One thing about runners and one thing I’ve learned through running is that runners are like a family. We are an extended family.”
At the Boston Marathon that family extends to the hundreds of thousands of people that gather to watch and cheer on the runners.
To many, the pain and terror inflicted on the bystanders was much worse, especially when lives were lost.
“I think the hardest thing for me was hearing about the eight-year-old boy whose dad had just finished and they were walking to greet him,” said Marshall graduate Nicole Porath. “That was just tragic.”
For Marshall’s Lee Allex, competing in the marathon was an achievement he had only dreamed about until this year when he participated in the marathon. His time of 3:26 put him across the finish line just over a half hour before the terror and chaos began.
“I didn’t hang around long (after finishing), said Allex. “We were back to our hotel by about the time it happened.
“It was just my wife and I. We have two kids, but they stayed here because of school and stuff. We didn’t hear about it until we got back to the hotel and we watched it on the news.”
He said that when his whole family does go to the races, they are right there at the finish line to cheer him on.
Porath, who is working towards qualifying for the 2016 Olympics, had even considered running the Boston Marathon this year. And the results could have been drastically different.
“It hits home for me because literally the day before, I talked to my husband and said I really wished I had targeted Boston as my spring marathon,” Porath said. “We’re the type of people that once I finish, we always hang around the finish line to cheer on other runners. That really hit home for me.”
Sample is no stranger to Boylston Street and the finish line for the Boston Marathon. In 2008 the Olympic trials used portions of the course, and her family was right where the first blast occurred, in front of Marathon Sports, a running specialty store at the heart of the marathon.
“The year that I made the Olympic Trials, we ran six miles of the route four times and we ran a 2.2 mile loop,” Sample said. “My family stood right in front of that store waiting for me to cross the line at the trials. Our finish line was the same as the Boston Marathon finish line, but the Olympic Trials was run the day before the marathon.
“They were standing right outside that store, outside of that fence, waiting for me to cross the finish line. I think I have a picture of me coming over to get a hug from them there.”
As news of the bombing spread across the nation, both Porath and Sample received messages from fellow runners and others that know them.
“A lot of people were checking up on me,” said Porath. “My husband is a dentist and his patients were even checking up on him because they knew we were at a marathon.”
For Sample, the concerned questions started flowing in before she had even heard the news.
“When it happened, I immediately started getting texts (asking) are you O.K.? I didn’t know what had happened yet,” Sample said. “They were people that I hadn’t talked to in a long time, friends from across the country, checking in on me for no reason other than they knew we could possibly be out there.”
What should have been an evening of celebration for Allex turned into a more somber event.
“That night, the post party, it would have been people trading their stories – what they saw and what they experienced,” Allex said. “And that’s what we got when we went to this restaurant, which was a block from our hotel. We all kind of wanted to go out, talk to the other people and hear stories. Not just stories of the explosion and everything else, but stories about how it ran.
“We went to a local, little restaurant and we talked to a guy there that had finished about five minutes after me, but had a hard time finding his family. He ended up back at the finish line when it happened. He said he was far enough away that he didn’t get hurt, but you hear a lot of horror stories of people not being able to find their families.”
Despite all the pain, anger and questions that continue to swirl in the aftermath, one thing all three runners agree on is that this won’t stop people from running, even in the Boston Marathon.
“I would go back and run it again, most definitely,” said Allex. “I look at it like that could have happened to anyone in any situation anywhere. Yea, this time it was a marathon. It could happen to us anywhere. If we live our lives like this is all around us, we’re the victims even more so.”
Porath would also like to be in attendance for the 2014 Boston Marathon, but as a spectator.
“My husband is doing his first marathon this May. His original goal was 3:10-3:15, but the Boston Marathon qualifier is 3:05 for men,” Porath said. “He said his goal is now 3:05 because he thinks it would be really cool to be back there next year. For him, it makes him want to push harder to be there. I think that’s the way runners are. They are a resilient group.”
For Sample it comes down to sticking together as runners and showing their resiliency.
“I was talking to another friend who was going to go this year and changed his plans. It ended up he’s going to go next year,” said Sample. “He said we can’t stop what we’re doing and let them win. We have to pick up and we have to keep moving on.
“That’s what all the runners I’ve talked to have said. It’s awful, it’s horrible, but we can’t let them win. We have to keep moving on and stick together as a family.”