Marathoner Richardson shares his first-hand account
Southborough – Last week the Community Advocate profiled Jim Richardson who was running in yesterday’s Boston Marathon to raise funds for neuroblastoma cancer research in honor of his friend’s young son. (http://www.communityadvocate.com/2013/04/12/1156/). Richardson reports that he had nearly made it to the finish line in Boston when he learned the race was being stopped due to two bombs going off. Here is his first-hand account -
It was a great day to run the marathon until I learned about the tragic events at the finish line. I was having some cramping in my legs so my pace was a little slower than usual. However, even without any cramps I would have had to substantially beat my PR (4:24) to be at the finish line when at the time the bombs exploded.
It was a beautiful day and the spectators along the route were amazing. I ran with my friend Jim Norcross until about mile 14 at which point he went ahead as I was having trouble keeping up with his pace. I made it until about 25.5 miles at which point I saw Jim walking towards me. My initial thought was that he had already finished and was walking back to run the last half mile with me. However, when I got closer Jim told me about the bomb and said they had closed the course and we could not get to the finish line.
I had my phone in my pocket but only had about 10 percent of the battery remaining. I looked at my phone and saw a lot of people had texted me and left Facebook messages. I saw a text from my wife that indicated she and the kids were safe and I was relieved. I was expecting my parents to be at the finish line so I also sent them a text and later learned they decided not to go to the finish line because my father’s back was sore.
Our wives typically park their cars in the lot under the Boston Common so Jim and I started walking there. I tried calling my wife and sent my wife a text message saying that we were heading to the Common and asking if Jim’s wife and kids were with her. I did not know they had shut down all mobile phone service in the entire city due to a fear that a mobile phone might have been used to trigger the explosives. Before my wife could respond to the text my phone went dead.
As we were walking towards the Boston Common, we heard a large explosion. People in the area indicated this explosion sounded more muffled than the previous explosions (it sounded extremely loud to me). I guess this might have been the bomb squad detonating the other bomb(s) that didn’t go off but it made us very nervous. We decided we were safer to walk down the middle of Commonwealth Avenue to stay away from trucks, trash cans etc, along the street. As we were walking, I could tell Jim was getting very worried about his wife and kids. He asked a few people if he could borrow their phones to try to call her, but each time he couldn’t get through.
We made it the Public Garden and walked across the middle. When we got to the edge of Charles Street we could see both my family and Jim’s family on the other side of the road. We ran across the road and hugged our wives and kids and were very glad they were okay. We quickly got in our cars and got out of the city.
In talking with my wife, I learned that she and my kids (along with Jim’s wife and kids) were on Boylston Street about three blocks to the east at the time from the explosion. They heard the first explosion and were trying to figure out what happened (my daughter thought it was a cannon), as soon as they heard the second explosion they knew they needed to get out of there and they headed to the Boston Common. They saw lots of people, some who were very upset and agitated while they tried to get in contact with us. They saw that I passed the 40 km sensor, but for some reason it did not indicate that Jim had passed it and they were worried as he has run sub-four hour marathons before which could have put him at the finish line at the time of the explosions.
When I saw Jim at mile 25.5 or so, that was my first indication that there was something seriously wrong. I had noticed a few people talking and upset during the last couple of miles from the small tidbits I overheard I guessed that perhaps a runner had collapsed and maybe died. However, I would say that it seemed that 99 percent of the people had no idea and were actively cheering me on right up until the point where I had to stop running.
Initially, I was disappointed that I was unable to get to the finish line but as I learned the magnitude of what happened I realized that my inability to finish the marathon was insignificant in comparison to what the victims and their families are dealing with.
What a sad ending to what had been a great day.
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