Today, we remember those who ran, but never finished; the heroes who rescued the brave from chaos; and those whose lives have been eternally changed because of the tragic events on April 15, 2013. The memories remind us that the runners, spectators and the town of Boston are moving forward, forever strong.
Here’s the story of our own Christy Colgan, who fulfilled a lifelong dream in Boston two years ago.
Five Years of Training, One Race
Five years of training had prepared Christy for the 2013 Boston Marathon. Looking forward to the 26.2 miles ahead of her, she arrived at the starting line in Hopkinton early Monday morning where she met a new running buddy. The two decided to run the marathon together.
“The race is overwhelming emotionally,” said Christy. “Marathons hurt, but you have to push through it. The spectators cheering you on along the entire race help you feel like you can keep going.”
Unlike other races, the Boston Marathon isn’t a loop course – runners travel through small, hilly towns to get to the finish line. Around mile 13, Christy says her legs started to hurt, much more than the pain she feels in other races. With two miles left, her friend’s legs gave out, and she thought she wasn’t going to be able to finish. But Christy pulled her through it – crossing the finish line together, just as they had started.
Concerned for her friend’s health, Christy helped her running partner to the medical tent where they last spoke just before the terror unfolded.
The News Spreads
Then, moments after 3 p.m., Christy, her husband and father, gathered at a train station in Boston where bystanders murmured about an explosive sound. The family looked to their smartphones to figure out what the rumors could be, but the spotty service left the three to speculate. Christy, who crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon an hour earlier, assumed the noise must have been from a malfunctioning sound system.
Still confused, Christy and crew started driving to their hotel in Boston Proper to get ready for the marathon celebrations later that night. Then the radio broke the tragic news – two explosions occurred near the finish line just before 3 p.m.
“My heart really sunk,” said Christy. “We were driving past mile-marker 23. I saw so many people still running who had no idea what had happened. But I knew that they weren’t going to be able to finish the race.”
Christy finished the marathon at 1:52 p.m., completing the 26.2 miles just under her goal time at 3 hours, 29 minutes. After getting her medal, race bag and wading through the crowds, Christy met her husband and father at 2:45 p.m. about a block from the finish line. They arrived at the train station minutes before the first explosion on the side of Boylston Street, where her husband and father would have been within earshot had they still been standing there waiting for Christy.
“I was really lucky,” said Christy. “The two people who I care about the most, who came to the race to show their love and support, could have been seriously hurt if we hadn’t of left the race literally five minutes before everything happened.”
The Road to the Finish Line
The Boston Marathon was Christy’s fifth marathon, and it wasn’t her last, nor her fastest. Breaking a personal record last year, Christy claimed third place in the women’s division at the Rock-n-Roll marathon in Raleigh with a more-than-impressive time of 3 hours, 8 minutes. Christy has also since reconnected with her running buddy from that first race, who is still running today.
While Christy won’t be going for a medal at the Boston marathon this year, she’ll be cheering on her colleague, Lilith Anderson, who is bravely running the course for the second time. As Lilith gears up for race day, we’ll be thinking of those who were left vulnerable and shaken two years ago, hoping they’ve found the strength to keep their passions alive.