When the Boston Marathon steps off Monday morning there will be nearly 39,000 men and women ready to take to the 26-mile course. Several of them are from the Pittsburgh area, and some of them have memories of being part of the race last year that was halted after a pair of bombs detonated near the finish line.
“All we could see in front of us was blocks of people standing in the street,” said Joe Meyers of Monroeville, who was too far from the finish line to hear the blasts but soon ran up to the growing cue of runners who were prevented from moving any further. “People were laying in the street because they had just run 26 miles and then stopped solid … and went down. I originally thought that was the problem.”
Aileen Bowman was about a mile out and heard what she thought was a cannon and then saw smoke. After the race was stopped Bowman tried to walk to wear the buses holding personal belongings park, but she was having a hard time crossing the street due to the seemingly endless stream of emergency vehicles rushing to the scene.
Meanwhile, John Adamczak was not running the race that day, instead he was running among the tents near the finish line leading a team of volunteers trying to keep everything stocked and ready to aid the runners. Supplies like water, energy bars and blankets, not tourniquets and morphine.
His team, which had arrived at the finish line in the wee hours of the morning, worked well into the night giving aid to the victims. When he asked his team members if they wanted to return this year they all answered yes without hesitation.
All of those who did not finish last year were automatically qualified for the race this year. The same is true from spectators who were injured by the bombs. It seems that many took the offer. The race participant list is much larger this year than it has been in recent years.
That is how Aileen Bowman is able to run with her husband Scott and their family friend Cathy Swauger this year. Scott was near the finish line when the bombs exploded and lost some hearing. Swauger is running as his guest.
Because of her relatively quick pace, Bowman’s start time is about 20 minutes before that of her husband and friend, so she will not be running with them. But she says it is not about keeping pace this year. She says she is just running for the experience … hoping to soak it all in from beginning to end.
The first elite runners in the 2014 race will leave the starting gate this morning at 9:32 a.m.