My Account of the Attack on the Boston Marathon

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Yesterday I went to watch the Boston Marathon.  A few hours later, we were recovering from a devastating attack on our city.

My friends, family, and I are fortunate to be uninjured.  We were watching two miles away from the blasts in Copley Square.

Marathon Runner from Marblehead

Boston: Home to the World’s Best Marathon

Boston is a lot of things — an intellectual hub, a technological hotspot, a historical treasure trove.  We’re fiery, we’re smart, we’re independent, and we celebrate Patriots’ Day — a Massachusetts-only holiday that celebrates the occasion when the British were driven out of Boston during the American Revolution.

Boston is also a sports town.  Oh, are we ever a sports town!  Even for someone like me who isn’t a sports fan, sports are the lifeblood that bond Bostonians, and we have some great teams (all of which won championships in the past decade).  The Red Sox will beat Baltimore and a “Yankees Suck” chant will materialize on Yawkey way, itself a bonding ritual more than an insult.  Hell, the Celtics can beat the Lakers and we’ll be doing the same thing.

But the Boston Marathon is different from other Boston sports.  It’s inherently joyful.  It’s not competitive — well, aside from briefly wondering if this will be the year that an American will finally beat the Kenyans and Ethiopians.  No matter who leads the path on the 26.2-mile jaunt from Hopkinton to Copley Square, we cheer for them like crazy, and we keep cheering for the runners that cross our path over the next several hours.

Helping Marathoners

I never got Patriots’ Day off when I worked in Boston, but I’d always take it off anyway, going down to the finish line to watch the runners and take in the atmosphere. Β When it came time for me to plan my visit home, I decided to time it around Marathon Monday — easily the best time to visit Boston. Β My friend Beth and her boyfriend Brian invited me to skip Copley Square and watch by their place in Brookline instead.

We cheered on the runners on Beacon St., reassuring them that with infamous Heartbreak Hill now in the past, they were in the home stretch of the marathon.  “You’re almost done!  Keep going!”  we cheered.  “You can do it!”

“God save the Queen!” My friend called out to several runners decked out with union jack shorts, which often elicited a pumped fist in reply.  “I love you, Tinkerbell!” I yelled to a man dressed in a green fairy costume with a wand.

Marathon Tinkerbell

Behind us was a group of college students barbecuing on their roof, red solo cups in hand.  The more time that passed, the drunker they got — but they never stopped cheering for the runners.  They yelled out the names people had written across their shirts, along with a raucous “U-S-A!  U-S-A!” whenever a fatigues-clad soldier walked by.

At one point, a runner dressed in green fell to his knees, clearly in pain.

“Come on, green!” yelled the college students.  “YOU CAN DO IT!  Pick yourself up, green, you’re almost finished!  You’ve got this!  YES, YOU CAN!  YES, YOU CAN!  YES, YOU CAN!”  And before long, the man in green picked himself up and started jogging again, throwing a grateful glance in their direction.

That’s the Boston Marathon.  It’s so positive and uplifting.

So for someone not only to brutally attack innocent people, but to do so in the context of such a joyous occasion, was an unbelievably coldblooded maneuver.

Washington Square Marathon

Shock and Horror

Beth and I were having lunch at a Thai place on the Mile 23 mark when my dad called me, telling me that there had been an explosion in Copley Square.  My stomach dropped.  The three of us immediately got on our phones and began updating social media and calling our loved ones.

Minutes earlier, a band outside had been playing “Hello, It’s Me” to the crowd as smoke billowed from a barbecue.  The elite runners had long crossed the finish line, but people were still cheering on the runners that passed, offering them water and orange slices.  But as word of the disaster spread, everyone on the sidelines had their phones out.  The music and the barbecue stopped.  The atmosphere turned dark.  Before long, the police started intervening on the route, telling the runners to go home.

We headed back to Beth’s as more details slowly trickled in.  Two people had died (a third died later).  More bombs had been found (this was later found to be false).  A lot of people had lost their legs, and photos surfaced of people with their limbs missing.

Boston Marathon

The Impact

I can’t imagine to think about what the victims and their families are going through right now, especially the family of the eight-year-old boy from Dorchester who lost his life, and the people who are now going forward without their limbs.  My heart goes out to them.

I’m sad for my city, my community, and my former neighborhood, Back Bay, where the blasts went off and where I lived for two years.

I’m humbled by the first responders.  Could you imagine seeing an explosion go off — and having the instinct and strength to run straight into it?  I’ve always respected these people deeply, but after seeing the video of them running directly into the blast, having no idea what lay ahead, my respect and admiration have gone up exponentially.  Thank you SO much for all that you do.

I’m inspired by the Bostonians who immediately stepped up to offer whatever help they could, including offering to house runners without a place to stay.  I’m floored by the marathoners who continued running straight to Mass General, another mile and a half, to donate blood.

In the coming days, more details will unfold about this attack.  But for now, know that my city will get through this.  We Bostonians have a long history of making it through difficult circumstances.  We will survive this and thrive once again.

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47 thoughts on “My Account of the Attack on the Boston Marathon”

  1. I’m so happy to hear you and your family/friends are ok. And I too am deeply humbled by those who jumped in the line of fire to help those injured. I still can’t wrap my head around it but Bostonians are resilient.. sending good thoughts from California. πŸ™‚

  2. I am so sorry that this would have to occur anywhere. It’s so senseless. I thought how you must feel and how uncanny that you would be home for the incident. In a way, I think, I would have wanted to be in my city at such a challenging time to know that my loved ones were okay and to be a part of comforting and building up the ones affected physically.
    Our thoughts and prayers are with all hurt by this senseless act, whether emotionally or physically.
    Let the healing begin.

  3. Kate, I am tearing up reading this. I am so sad for my hometown city and for the visitors affected by this heinous cowardice act. I am so proud of our fellow citizens who risked their own lives to help others and I am humbled by the random acts of kindness of people offering strangers a place to stay and to the runners who gave blood immediately following their 26 mile marathon.
    I am sick to my stomach, but my pride for Boston is shining. My mind goes back to the days of living in London during the “bombing years” where taking the Tube was like playing the lottery. I never let it stop me from getting to work and adopted the resolve of the British people as the proper way to carry on and live amongst the tragedies. It was a valuable lesson that now the people of Boston will need to adopt in order to not let the cowards win.
    Thank you to you and Mario for the accurate and honest coverage. I am thankful you and your loved ones are safe.

  4. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I’m relieved you’re ok. What happened is so horrific and pointless. I can’t stop thinking about the father whose son died, and how he’ll wish for the rest of his life that he hadn’t run the marathon, when really he should be spending today resting up and feeling immensely proud of what he achieved. I hope it doesn’t put people off running in future. So much money and awareness is raised at these events for fantastic causes.

  5. Thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Boston. I still can’t believe it. πŸ™ It is great to see so many people helping in anyway possible.

  6. I was watching from Newton, I saw the exact same tinkerbell guy, he brought a big smile to the crowds face, lots of people in Union Jacks, a guy dressed like a hamburger, and another as a hotdog, with a ton of other people running for various charities.

    Hands down my favorite day in Boston every year is Patriots Day, everyone is always happy and cheering. Shocking when it happens in your city, thankfully everyone I know is safe as well. My cousins are BPD, one was working 2 blocks away, said it was like a war zone basically. Thoughts to all the victims and their families, I know Boston will get through it!

  7. Boston had been–and is still is–in my bucket list. It’s my dream to qualify there as a marathoner. I cannot imagine what those runners must have felt, to be running there finally, and then experiencing the unthinkable. :(( My heart goes out to everyone who was there!

  8. This was so tragic and sad, I was so worried yesterday as so many of my close friends live in Boston.

    As someone who knew nothing about the Boston marathon at all before this, your post did a good job of explaining what the marathon means to so many Bostonians.

    My heart and prayers go out to everyone there <3

  9. It’s terrible what’s happening in Boston right now. Just watching video coverage of the explosion as it happened and hearing all the screams sent chills up my spine. I cannot begin to imagine how terrible that day was for everyone. I’m glad you and everyone you loved are safe!


  10. I was in Boston 2 months ago and stayed in the Copley hotel that they evacuated yesterday. The thing that stood out to me about everybody I dealt with in Boston was how nice and down to earth they are (not the stereotype). It breaks my heart to think about the people I interacted with suffering. You mentioned the very thing that stood out to me watching the video…that instead of running away from the blast, everybody immediately ran towards it to help. Glad you and Mario are safe and sound!

  11. Absolutely senseless, cruel violence. My heart goes out to all of those who were injured and murdered in the blasts.

    I’m glad you’re okay – and Mario sounded immensely brave to get back in there and report on what was happening – he sounds like a great person.

  12. Such a tragic event to mar an event that is usually so joyous. It was difficult to watch the news coverage yesterday; I’m glad you and your family and friends are OK, but I can’t imagine what those who are injured or who have lost loved ones are going through. You never go to an event like this expecting to be the victim of such a senseless attack.

    But, like you, I was uplifted by the stories of people doing amazing things after the bombs went off. Those stories — the ones about marathoners running to donate blood; of people opening up their homes; of first responders running straight into the danger — are the ones I will share and remember. Those stories show the true spirit of Boston and its people.

  13. Wow, I can’t believe you were there! How lucky that you decided not to watch in Copley Square. Massachusetts has had a rough year, but I’m hoping that in some way something good will come out of the tragedy, like a phoenix from a fire.

    Last night I wrote a post on my blog about my perspective of the events as an expat, since I recently moved to Korea. Yes, yes, a bit of shameless self promotion here, but I think it’s very relevant and as a traveler/sort-of-expat (do you consider yourself an expat since you no longer live in the US but don’t necessarily call another place home?) maybe you can relate. Anyway, glad you are safe and enjoy your upcoming travels. πŸ™‚

  14. Wow. Good to hear you are okay. Having lived in Boston myself and having lots of friends still there who were at the marathon as well – it was very very sad to hear about such things happen at the marathon. All my friends were okay though, luckily even though some of them were in Copley near the finish line, they had left that area before the bombs went off.

    I’ve been to the Boston Marathon before, and you describe it well – I can’t imagine a more peaceful event.

    The whole thing is just so sad.

  15. Wow, had no idea you were there. It’s just awful. Glad you are safe. Hopefully the FBI catches whoever did this evil act ASAP. What makes it all the worse is that many of these runners were running to raise money for charity. I just don’t understand what drives a person to attack so many people doing such a good thing.

  16. I honestly cannot believe it. I’m still in shock about it, in some ways. It’s unfathomable.

    Thanks for sharing your experience — and sharing the positivity that came out of such an event, even though it is tragic.

    Glad you’re okay!

  17. Beautiful tribute to the brave people of Boston and the marathoners who endured so much. It is sick and disturbing what happened, and the outcome so tragic, but kudos to the people who enabled the beauty of our humanity to shine through by donating blood, rescuing innocent victims, and reaching out to one another. Thank you for responding to this event without sensationalizing it. πŸ™‚

  18. Wow, what a scary thing to be in the middle of, and a tragic day for all. As you say, it’s truly unfathomable that this world has so many coldblooded people. Why must we share our world with them?

  19. What a story…glad you’re back safely. I’ve been in NYC all week for a conference and you can really feel the police presence and added security in places like the subway.

    I’m in Mid-town (Hell’s Kitchen area), if you live nearby, I’d love to meet up for coffee if you’re interested/free?

  20. Boston is scary today. Glad you were far away, I was working (and live!) by Fenway and my restaurant was shut down. love and prayers to all of my badass city <3

  21. My heart reach out to all those that are infected by this evil act. It really makes me sick that it’s always the innocent ones that get hurts the most. Why can’t we just all get along and try to make the world a better place, then bringing un-needed grievance?

  22. Gosh, thank goodness you are okay! I can’t imagine how anyone could ever do something like this, it’s humbling how everyone pulled together and helped out. Sending positive thoughts to Boston.

  23. I applaud the bravery and the strength of the people in Boston. I am glad that you and you’re family were okay but of course I feel sad for the people who are deeply affected and to those who were injured and lost their lives.

  24. I thought this was going to be about a love/hate relationship with Boston but it sounds like love to me! I live 4 blocks from the finish line and was working in my den when I started hearing way too many sirens. I ran out and people were coming toward my street in droves – spectators mostly but some runners too. At that point I only knew it had been an “explosion”. My neighbors and I did what little we could – offer directions, bathrooms, drinks, cab fare, etc. I don’t use the word “hate” often at all but I hate those two brothers who did that and I hate that one is still alive. And I hate what they did to the lives of so many innocent people. But I’m very proud of Boston and how the city responded and it was so moving the things that other cities did as tributes to Boston too. And I love Boston!

    1. Good for you. It’s inspiring to hear about how people helped each other.

      We may have used to be neighbors — I lived right on the corner of Charlesgate East and Boylston!

  25. Sad to know. I hope everything gets mitigated soon. Such things steal away the joy of life, but I appreciate the spirit of the people who had to go through this attack.

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