Monday, April 22, 2013
Flower Mound running group reflects on Boston Marathon bombing
They've struggled to make sense of the act, but say that running in the days since has been therapeutic.
FLOWER MOUND For many runners, the Boston Marathon is the pinnacle for competitive racing.
One local athlete described it as her sanctuary.
But Monday, it took on a whole new meaning.
About 2:45 p.m. ET, a bomb went off near the finish line, sending runners scattering and emergency crews converging on the scene.
Seconds later, another one.
Three people were killed in the blasts, and about 180 were injured.
Eleven runners from Flower Mound competed in the race, including eight from the North Texas Striders, a local running group that consists of runners from Flower Mound and the surrounding area.
Jennifer Wilford, 43, was one of the Striders at the marathon. She and the others from Flower Mound finished the race before the explosions happened and were unhurt. But Wilford said while she and her running partners escaped the blasts, the struggle to understand why this happened has followed her back to Texas.
“Part of me is still reeling,” Wilford said. “The first thing I did when I got home was organize my office because it would help things make sense. Also, running has been therapeutic.”
Wilford finished the race 48 minutes before the explosions, and she had just gotten on a subway to head to her hotel in nearby Cambridge. That’s when she began getting ominous text messages to learn what happened.
Several of them asked if she was OK, which she assumed referred to her race. But one from her brother mentioned the bombs, which got her attention.
“I told my roommate that we need to get to a TV because something is wrong,” Wilford said. “They were showing the replays on TV, and it was so unreal because we had been there 45 minutes prior. This was one of the most awful and stunning things I had ever seen because it was so unexpected.”
Once Wilford was able to verify that her Striders teammates were accounted for, she and her roommate left for the airport early. She was amazed by the flurry of activity.
“In just a matter of hours, things changed drastically,” Wilford said. “Even just three hours later, there were armed security guards at the hotel, and you had to show your key to get in and out. The state police interviewed me and others once we got to Logan Airport. They were making attempts to talk to all of the runners. That tells you how intense the investigation was.”
Another local runner, who wished not to be identified, was already at the hotel when the explosions happened. Her hotel was closer to the finish line, so she heard both blasts.
“When I heard the second one, it was obvious that these were done intentionally,” she said. “When they happen that close together, you don’t know what else to think. Whether it was foreign or domestic, that’s to be determined.”
Being close to the scene, she watched the activity that immediately followed.
“There were still people running, so a lot of them probably didn’t know what was going on,” she said. “Then the emergency vehicles brought out a lot of stretchers, so it was obvious that this caused some serious damage.”
She said race officials began clearing the area near the finish line.
“I saw people streaming out of the buildings,” she said. “I was supposed to fly out that night, but instead I left in about 15 minutes. There was chaos in the streets with a lot of people not knowing what was going on.”
Her husband texted her to get to the airport because there would be extra military on hand there.
Wilford said she continues to process the tragedy that she never thought would happen at an event like that.
“I never in a million years thought it was unsafe or insecure,” Wilford said. “Patriot’s Day there is like Christmas and the Fourth of July all wrapped into one. It’s what makes Boston unique. And I keep going back because of the celebration of human spirit and the half a million people cheering you on for running.”
Both runners interviewed said despite the bombing, they are not scared to go back.
“Part of me wants to go next year more to make a statement,” Wilford said. “But if my 9-year-old doesn’t want me to, then I would think twice about it.”
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