On Monday morning, Maryanne Donato looked forward to running in her second Boston Marathon. She, nor the nearly 25,000 other runners who participated in the international event could have predicted the chaotic scene that would unfold.
“It was a perfect day for the race,” she said. “Everybody was having a good time.”
As the race began, she knew that along the 26.2 mile route, her husband Steven would meet her at various locations to cheer her on and hand her the Band-Aids and Gatorade she would need to keep her going.
“It’s easy to get on and off the T,” she said of the commuter trains that travel through the city. “My husband met me at the 17 mile mark and gave me some supplies.”
After she ran into the distance, Mr. Donato hopped back on the T and Ms. Donato continued her run. At the 20 mile mark she anticipated meeting up with her husband near the finish line where, she said, the crowd can get four or five deep.
“I was looking forward to the finish and getting the finisher’s medal,” she said.
Running through Newton hills, Ms. Donato said that a motorcycle police officer escorting an ambulance passed by the runners.
“That was the first indication something was wrong,” she said. “Then a spectator yelled to go to the carriage road. We really didn’t know what was going on.”
The carriage road runs parallel to that section of the race course. Within seconds, she said, the police officers who were wearing yellow coats and directing traffic were wearing bullet proof vests and holding weapons.
“It was surreal. Police were watching every doorway and every entrance. It went from upbeat and exciting to silence.”
Ms. Donato along with other runners that were on the course with her were directed to a parking lot on the Boston University campus where they were given mylar blankets to keep them warm after sweating during the run. From there they were led to school busses and taken to Boston Common.
“It was like herding sheep,” she said of directing the English and non-English speaking runners to a secure area.
Although cell phone service was disrupted, she said some people began receiving text messages from relatives from other parts of the country who provided information as to what was going on. But, she said, some of the information was conflicting. Unable to contact her husband, she could only hope and pray that he was also safe.
“I was hoping he didn’t make it to the finish line,” she said. “Where the bomb went off is where my husband was supposed to wait for me. We didn’t have a plan on what to do if something happens.”
It wasn’t until five hours later that they were reunited back at their hotel.
Although Ms. Donato was safe, she thought of all the charitable groups that were affected by the act of terrorism. And, she said, this will not keep her from future races.
“I wouldn’t want to be defeated. This is the most prestigious race. I really would like to see the event continue.”
Peter Harley, another marathon runner from Bristol also competed in Monday’s race and finished well before the explosions occurred. When a Phoenix reporter spoke with his wife, Heather, by cell phone shortly after news of the incident broke, the couple was already in their car and stuck in traffic attempting to leave Boston.
Another runner whose name was listed as an entrant did not run due to an injury that prevented her from training. Stacy Weiner said that if she did run, based on the time, she likely would have been nearing the finish line around the time of the blast. She also spoke with another Bristol runner, Michael Vallee who finished the course one half hour before the explosion and was safely away from the area at the time.