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.

boston marathon shoes stories

Jeannie Hannigan

23, Allston

What makes everything so heartbreaking is that it’s such a happy day. It’s like 26.2 miles of the best people-watching ever. There are hilarious signs, people cheering for you like you’re a rock star, music. There’s such a sense of community. I made it all the way to Kenmore Square and my friend Louie came to run the last mile with me. I could see it—I knew it was so close. Louie told me he’d just heard that two bombs went off. “Your sense of humor sucks,” I said. But he wasn’t joking. Louie and I walked together out of the Back Bay, and through the Fenway. Our friend Jamie always gives Louie crap for wearing long-sleeve shirts under short-sleeve shirts. I was freezing in a tank top and Louie was wearing, obviously, a short-sleeve shirt over a long-sleeve shirt. He literally gave me the shirt off his back—it saved my life a little bit.


Lacey Cumming

23, Boston

For me, it was just a big blur of confusion. It was my first marathon. I heard ambulances and I’d just passed my dad—he was also running, but he wasn’t doing well, and I was worried they might have been for him. Then someone said, “Explosions.” After, I found my father. We were wandering like homeless people. No other hotels would take us in, but the Park Plaza was beyond accommodating. They let us right in. A woman who was staying there from North Carolina asked if I was okay. I just started to cry. She let me into her room, she let me take a shower and even wear one of her shirts. I hadn’t seen my mother yet, so just having someone motherly like that to talk to was amazing.


Jacqueline Sager

27, North End

I looked up and I saw smoke, and I kept on running—I was full-on sprinting at this point. And the second blast goes off, and I’m right past the Hynes Convention Center and right near the Mandarin hotel and Whiskey’s and that area. The police started running toward us, stopping us. It went from a full-on sprint to a dead stop, not really knowing what had happened but knowing that we couldn’t see the finish line anymore. And we had just seen it—it was just there. Then it disappeared in smoke.

People who had been in the direct blast area were running toward us. A police officer picked me up and helped me get over the barrier. And then two really nice spectators who were evacuating the scene helped me text my emergency contacts. You began to realize that the people that were down at the finish line were the people that you ran the whole race with. In a race, you pass people, and then they pass you, and then you pass them.

boston marathon shoes stories

Sarah Pakstis

35, Cambridge

It was my first marathon. It was just like everyone said, how awesome the crowds were. To hear that spectators were killed and injured, it just strikes at the heart of the marathon. I think for me it’s just trying to come to grips with that. It was such an abrupt end. I ended up walking away from Kenmore Square. My phone was dead, I had no water, keys, nothing. These college kids on the side of the street saw me and I was hysterical, and they took me in and charged my phone and got me a beer. It was a range of emotions. I know I’m lucky, but I didn’t get to make that turn onto Hereford. When you’re training for four months, it’s the only thing that keeps you going on those long 20-mile runs. And to have that taken away, it’s just awful.