'You could just see the panic'
As the sun set and the temperature dropped Monday night in Copley Square, runners who never crossed the finish line, still shivering under foil blankets, collected bags they dropped off nearly 12 hours prior.
On an average, sunny Marathon Monday, they would have collected the bags and, finishing medal in hand, greeted loved ones at the finish.
But two back-to-back explosions at the finish line that killed three and wounded more than 100 people put those stragglers among the approximately 6,000 runners whose 26.2-mile journey from Hopkinton to Boston was tragically halted.
“Really, everyone on the course at that time panicked,” said Kerry Donohue, of Haverhill, who ran her fifth Boston Marathon. Police stopped her and many others between the 21 and 22-mile mark near Boston College.
She described how runners shared cell phones so each other could call family and friends, to tell them they were OK.
As supporters worried about their runners, the runners worried about those they had planned to meet at the finish line, as rumors spread up the sea of runners about the bombings.
“We knew that there was a disaster,” said Patty Hung, of Orinda, Calif., whose son Kevin was at the finish, very near where the bombs exploded. Hung was half a mile from the finish.
She found Kevin thanks to text messages, as officials temporarily shut down cell phone service.
“You could just see the panic,” said Marian Lindberg, of Ellis, Kan. She crossed the finish line just three minutes before the bombs exploded.
Many other runners leaving Copley Monday night told stories of heartwarming – and body-warming - hospitality they received at St. Ignatius church in Newton, where volunteers passed out blankets, pizza and fresh pretzels.
“What the Boston College students did was just amazing,” said Jim Puklin, 71, of Washington, D.C.
Puklin had almost championed Heartbreak Hill for the 33rd time in his running career when police told runners to move to the other side of the road, then ordered them to stop.
“I was about two blocks from the top,” he said.
Instead, he stayed in the church for about two and a half hours with other runners before being bussed back to Boston.
Still clad in American-flag-print running shorts, a sweaty t-shirt and a foil blanket, he hurried to find his belongings Monday night.
Empty water bottles and abandoned cheering signs littered the streets as the sun set. But the aura was different amid the typical post-Marathon debris.
“You know what, God was looking out for me. I could have been at the finish line,” said Jim Goodman, from Las Angeles, as he picked up his bag.
Dennis DiTullio, who runs with his phone, said he thought it was strange when it was flooded with text messages and phone calls Monday afternoon. His friends knew he was running a marathon.
Only when he was stopped and read them did he understand. He said the event reminded him of the terrorist attacks in New York City on Sept.11, 2001.
“For something like that to happen here, I don’t know, it was weird,” said DiTullio, of Winthrop.
Michele Jordan, a former Medway and Holliston resident who lives in Plymouth, said she knew five miles out that something was wrong.
This was her eighth Boston Marathon and she had planned for it to be her last. Now she is reconsidering.
“I might come back. I might come back for the people who didn’t make it,” she said.
Contact Laura Krantz at 508-626-4429 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @laurakrantzmwdn.