An event as big as the Boston Marathon has followers nationwide.
For avid local runner, Erin Henderson, she was already actively keeping in touch with running friends in the race when the blasts occurred, wishing she was there.
“The news was just starting to come across with the people I was in contact with,” she said. “They were saying what just happened?”
As a finisher in last year’s race, Henderson had qualified and registered to run again this year before a recent decision not to compete was made.
“I think it’s crazy,” she added. “I mean, we even paid the registration. My bib is right there in Boston. My dad was standing right where one of the bombs went off last year watching me finish the race. I bought my sweatshirt in that store.”
With thousands of runners, split up into two groups, making their way to the finish line, she pointed out that the four-hour mark is when the faster runners of the second group are finishing amid the slower runners of the first group.
“The four-hour mark is a huge number of people finishing,” she added. “That seems like it was done to maximize the damage.”
Two bombs went off within 100 yards and 12 seconds of each other where the enthusiasm was the highest, the finish line.
This year’s race was the 117th annual, the longest in the country. The Boston Marathon draws approximately 500,000 spectators from around the world, making security a priority, but also a daunting task.
“Right before [the finish], it is packed with spectators with people ten-deep,” Erin said. “It’s almost impossible to keep it completely secure. I just don’t know how it would be at one-hundred percent safe. But it’s such a fun, supportive event. You usually only see the best of people at this race. 80-year old women and people pushing kids in wheelchairs and it’s a day of accomplishment and celebration.”
For a race that is for many, the culmination of a lot of work, the local residents are just as excited.
“The people that live there; it is one of the happiest days in Boston,” Henderson continued. “There’s no school, the colleges are closed and it’s a city-wide event. It runs through all these towns and communities so you have people into it the whole way. For runners, they call it the Super Bowl of running but it’s even bigger than that because you get to line up in the same race as the best in the world.”
Henderson’s bib sat unused in one of the many work tents surrounding the event, serving as a reminder of a blessed coincidence.
“You have to register in September, so I had qualified; I was supposed to be there. It ended up not fitting in well with my training schedule. Definitely turns it all around and feels like God is watching out for you and thankful that you are not there but just heartbroken for people that you know who are.”
She believes the bombing will do nothing to dampen enthusiasm for running.
“Heck no,” she said. “The people I’ve talked to, [it] makes them more committed to get out there and do it and run that much harder. You can’t live in a box and you can’t hide.”
Erin and her husband Josh are scheduled to be in Chicago for a marathon in October where she admits the events of this past Monday will flash through her head. But she says that she and other runners refuse to let it stop them.
“I certainly wouldn’t let it keep me from what I love to do,” she concluded. “This was the best and the worst of people, it’s a celebration of the human spirit turned into a tragedy which is part of the sadness of it. But you also see those so willing to throw themselves in the middle of things to help so it makes you want to realize there are so many good people out there.”