The Shoes We Wore
Some of them completed the race. Others were stopped before the finish line. Here is what they ran in, and what they witnessed, during the 117th Boston Marathon.
After 22 miles and four hours we heard that a “manhole cover” had exploded, just as we went up Heartbreak Hill. Our team continued on. There was an eerie feeling as the crowds who had been cheering us fell silent and began to focus on their phones. When the police and race officials stopped us, I was emotionally spent and I began to cry. Picking up my race bag the next day, I spoke with a few fellow runners, but most of us just exchanged looks and pats on the back. I was handed a medal that I have yet to allow myself to put on, and likely never will.
There was no celebrating. I crossed the finish line and heard the bang. It’s taken a while to sink in. I’ll never understand how someone could do something like this. [He starts to cry softly.] I think about my children—there were so many other families that are hurting far more than I am, beyond anything I’ve experienced. What’s special about my story? I think of all the people, and the history of this race. Boston is a unique city. We open our backyards and our streets to the world. The race happens mostly through neighborhoods. It’s a proud day for our city. We have to keep running because we can.
Skye Bobbitt Johnson
37, Neptune Beach, Florida
This was my first Boston Marathon. We made it a girls’ trip. I was with two of my best friends. I finished in three hours and 41 minutes and was about halfway through the finish chute when my lower body started cramping up. They brought me to the medical tent and as I was lying there, I said, “I feel like the tent’s moving. I feel like I’m on a boat, like the ground is moving.” And they said, “You’re just disoriented.” As I left the tent, a man told me that two bombs had just gone off. Then I saw a girl walking toward the tent. “I saw everything,” she said. She was covered in blood, but it wasn’t hers. It was about 8:30 in the evening when I got back to my room and into fresh clothes. Getting off the plane in Jacksonville, in our Boston jackets and gear, was the hardest part. Partly, it was being scared of questions and having to relive it, and also just being sad. There were news cameras and reporters waiting, so that was a little overwhelming. Everybody keeps asking, Will you go back? I would do it again tomorrow.
32, North End
I crossed the finish line, then got the Mylar blanket and my medal. It was right when I got to the area where they give you PowerBars and snacks when the bombs went off. The first thing that came into my mind was that it sounded like the cannons going off in Charlestown. We turned around and saw the cloud of smoke in the air. And then it happened again. Everyone started running. All of a sudden, people were stampeding, saying, “Run, duck for cover, there’s a shooter.” I ran and ducked behind the school buses lined up on Berkeley Street. Everyone was running and ducking behind buses. And then we were stuck between the buses and the barricades. Your legs are so weak you can’t even climb over the barricades. A cop let us through. I will absolutely, 100 percent run next year. Emotionally, mentally, how I will handle it, I have no idea.