Theresa Mariea had no way to get back to her hotel. It was miles away, near the start of the Boston Marathon, and public transit was shut down after two bombs exploded near the finish line.
Shaken and confused, the Toledo Public Schools teacher and cross country coach of St. Ursula Academy was left to walk the city for hours with a friend who’d come to watch her race. This was supposed to be a celebration.
“It was eerie, because the streets were deserted,” Ms. Mariea said. “Everyone had this stunned, shocked look on their faces. They just couldn’t believe what happened.”
Hours earlier, Ms. Mariea had finished the marathon and was collecting her medal and a blanket when she heard and felt the first explosion. Then, she heard the second.
Everyone stopped. Police took out their radios. People in the street whose loved ones were still back at the finish line cried because they couldn’t reach them.
This was supposed to be a celebration.
By Tuesday, Boston didn’t seem much different to Tom Silva than it had on Sunday. People were milling about when he went for coffee, there were crowds on the street, as if all were normal. That was until he noticed the flags at half staff.
On Monday, he’d been in a recovery space, where runners get massages or visit a chiropractor. He was with a group of friends, the “Nerd Herd.” They never heard the explosions. They were just told to evacuate.
Momentary anxiety about his two adult sons, both of whom had left the area to get something to eat, subsided when they reconnected. Mr. Silva had worried they’d gone to watch racers finish.
Both Mr. Silva and Ms. Mariea were among a group of Toledo-area runners who competed in the Boston Marathon. It seemed Toledo runners were unscathed in the attacks that killed three and injured scores more. A local group, the Roadrunners, said they’d accounted for all their members racing or watching in Boston.
Despite spotty cell-phone service in the aftermath of the attacks, text messages and social media messages got out. Those piecemeal updates through social media and quick phone calls seemed to be how many assured others of their well being. A runner called a friend, who posted online, putting others at ease.
“Facebook was an amazing thing because I could reach so many people I couldn’t call,” Ms. Mariea said.
It wasn’t until Mr. Silva and his friends got back to their hotel rooms that they learned the scope of what happened. Ms. Mariea, who was closer, was still shaken a day after the attacks.
“I’ll never forget it. I know where I was at 9/11,” Ms. Mariea said. She tried to say something about Boston, but her voice cracked and she cried instead.
It was supposed to be a celebration, but it wasn’t. So runners will hold more races and celebrate what those in Boston Monday now could not.
The Roadrunners produce the Medical Mutual Glass City Marathon, which is still scheduled for April 28. Race director Clint McCormick said in a statement that he and other race organizers were “appalled at the senseless violence of this act.”
“Runner and spectator safety is always a top priority for any marathon, and that will be the case at the 2013 Medical Mutual Glass City Marathon April 28,” he said. “Our race security is a coordinated effort among the police forces of the City of Toledo, Ottawa Hills, Sylvania Township, City of Sylvania, and the University of Toledo.”
And on June 5, the Roadrunners will host a run-walk for National Running Day. This year’s event, according to the group’s Facebook page, will be 4.09 miles long — named for the clock time of the Boston Marathon when the first bomb went off.
Shirts to be produced in conjunction with the event say, “On April 15, 2013, we all became marathoners, and we remember those who cheer us on. We may be bruised, but never broken. We may be beaten, but never defeated.”
Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6086, or on Twitter @NolanRosenkrans