Guest Blog: Between the Explosions – An Account of the 2013 Boston Marathon
The following is Michelle Snowdon’s account of her experience at the 2013 Boston Marathon as told to and written by Andy Schachat.
April 15, 2013, 2:49 P.M. I am running down Boylston Street, just yards away from the finish line. It has been a great day but I am ready to finish. I have seen my family and friends two or three times on the course, I have run the hills and I am focused on the clock at the finish line. It is so close I can almost reach out and touch it. I am about to have the greatest thrill I have ever had as a runner. I am going to finish the Boston Marathon.
Then the clock struck 2:50. When the first explosion occurred I had two almost simultaneous thoughts. My first thought was it was why would there be fireworks at this time point of the marathon, but that quickly changed when I saw the explosion and smoke. I knew it was a bomb. I shrank down to the ground and while my focus all day had been to cross the finish line I was not sure that as close as it was if it was a good idea to do so; then heard the second explosion behind me. My first instinct was to figure out the safest place to go and decided to head to the finish line. I immediately thought of my friends and family. I had passed some of them a few yards up the street, in front of the finish line and now I was afraid I had put them in danger. It would be two and a half hours before I would be able to speak to some of them.
Just like any runner who finishes the Boston Marathon I kept moving past the finish line. Unlike the euphoria I expected to experience having viewed previous Boston Marathons, the finish line scene that I saw was filled with emergency personnel and seriously injured people. One thought kept running through my head: how did this get from running in the Boston Marathon to being in a scene out of a movie. I moved down Boylston Street, to the Gatorade table and the blankets. Unlike the normal scene of the Boston Marathon that I had seen in previous years today the streets were quiet. Then panic set in when word spread there were shooters coming down the street. I joined a couple of runners and ducked behind a truck then, thanks to a friend and stranger, I was pulled over the side of the barricades. Then we headed into one of the stores, City Sports, on Boylston Street. Since I had reached out to many friends and colleagues to raise money for the charity I was running for (Franklin Park Coalition) my phone was lit up with text messages; they had been tracking my progress and wanted to know if I was ok. It was amazing that so many people wanted to know how I was and frustrating that I could not communicate with anyone to let them know I was ok, or to find out if my friends and family were safe. About 90 minutes later we left City Sports, out the back door, and started walking. As we headed to Mass. Ave., a few blocks away, I noticed two groups of people. There were tons of runners, some of whom had not be able to finish the race, who were in disbelief. On the other hand there were a lot of folks who had yet to learn what had happened and were just out on the streets of Boston having fun. It was very eerie.
Thanks to an off duty taxi driver my friends and I got a ride to Woburn, which was to be the gathering spot for everyone including friends and family I had yet to see in the last few hours. Needless to say the reunion, which took place around 7, was emotional. We all went out to dinner in Woburn and I finally headed home to Bedford, N.H. a little after 10. Walking in the door I got a great greeting from my running partner, Ruger, my black lab. You can’t fool pets. Ruger sensed something was wrong. In fact, he has had a hard time letting me out of his sight in the weeks since Boston. I went to bed around midnight but I wouldn’t call it sleep.
Because I crossed the finish line the Boston Marathon has me officially listed as running a four hour, six minute, 24 second race. I was finisher 16,899, the 6,607th female to cross the finish line and was 1,008th in my age group. It should have been my greatest accomplishment as a runner. I had watched the Boston Marathon for years and had seen the fun, excitement, and energy that the day brings to its participants. The 2013 Boston Marathon was supposed to more of the same. It wasn’t