The Globe and Mail’s community team asked Canadians who were at the marathon or who live in the U.S. to share their experiences. Below are some of the responses.
We flew out of Boston at 1 p.m. on Tuesday and just landed in Chicago. Nice to be back en route to Calgary.
Reflecting back, there is definitely a feeling of being lucky, and honestly, it still doesn’t feel like it has sunk in. Our daughter (who is seven) has been peppering us with questions about the bombing and the eight-year-old boy who died. Those are tough questions to field and explain. One minute she was standing on top of Heartbreak Hill cheering her dad on in the world’s most prestigious marathon; and two hours later, we are confined to our hotel room with the city on lockdown after two bombs exploded. That’s a lot to absorb for a seven-year-old.
I really feel like the running and marathon community are coming together. I have just learned that there is “Run for Boston Calgary” being organized for Saturday to celebrate the race and running through adversity.
Blaine Penny, Calgary
I returned to Toronto Tuesday morning, and was interviewed twice at Logan airport by police officers who wondered whether I had any photographs or video or saw anything unusual near the finish line (I didn’t). I finished seven minutes before I heard the explosions and saw the smoke. I had been given my finisher’s medal but hadn’t picked up my checked clothing bag.
Those of us who were still in the finishing area immediately thought it was a terrorist attack. The mood changed dramatically from one of celebration to one of dismay and concern. My thoughts are of course with the innocent victims who were there to celebrate the athletic achievements of their friends and loved ones but who have lost their lives or limbs.
But let me react also as an amateur athlete who has qualified for and run the Boston Marathon a dozen years in a row: The Boston Marathon is a wonderful, unique event, meticulously planned and executed by the efforts of selfless volunteers. It is an event in which amateur athletes who earn the privilege compete on the same course at the same time as the greatest distance runners in the world. Few athletic events have the sense of tradition and lore of the Boston Marathon. I wonder whether it will ever be the same. But we can’t live in fear, or the bad guys win. So maybe I’ll come back a 13th time next year after all.
I finished almost an hour before the blast, but had walked back to the finish area one last time just before 3 p.m., when I met my husband and three sons in the lobby of the Westin, a block south of the blast. It is very disconcerting to realize how close we were to the tragedy. There was chaos at the time, but it was more a sense of confusion as everyone tried to make sense of what was happening. The emergency response was overwhelming in both its volume and level of efficiency.
The whole experience was particularly upsetting to my eight-year-old, who is old enough to sense that something was seriously amok. While we have shielded him from much of the media reports, he has seen enough. I suspect we will be having some very serious discussions together in the days to come.
Sarah Strickey, Ottawa
I took the first flight out to Toronto this morning. I’m just walking around my neighbourhood here because I need some normalcy. What happened Monday, no one would have ever thought.
On the plane ride home, they were quite a few marathon runners. They were very quiet. No one wanted to talk about their race. Their thoughts were more with those who got hurt and killed, including (she says through tears) an eight-year-old boy.