Remembering what really matters
Your Turn Ozarks
Letters to the Editor
by Melissa Adler
“Memories of (running) the 117th Boston Marathon are certainly not what I expected, but I don’t feel sorry for my experience. We were the lucky ones.”
It did not matter to the kids with outstretched arms that I was way off my pace. They just wanted to give me high fives. Neighbors along the route did not care that I wasn’t going to get a personal record (PR). They just wanted to support me with extra water and popsicles and orange slices. It made no difference to the spectators in the VIP stands that thousands of runners had already finished ahead of me. They were still there, cheering me on.
In the last miles of the marathon, the streets widened and the crowds were bigger than ever. When most runners took the tangents, I swung out to run along the barricades where old and young went crazy as I slapped every hand I could reach. I felt like a star. Eventually I crossed the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon. I crossed the finish line.
A volunteer handed me a bottle of water. Another in silly sunglasses put a medal around my neck. A photographer took my picture. Then came the first explosion. I turned around to see a huge cloud of white smoke rising from the finish line. Then another explosion. Runners just starting their celebration fell silent. A man next to me said “Oh no.”
Suddenly I felt very alone. I needed to get away, but I didn’t know where to go. I made my way down the cordoned street. People were shoulder to shoulder and chaos replaced the calm. I started to cry. Then sirens. There were calls to clear the street for emergency vehicles. I wedged myself between parked cars and metal barricades. When I found an opening, I jumped onto the sidewalk. By then people were running away from the finish line. It looked like a river of humanity.
My only thought was to get to the family reunion area to find my husband Paul, who said he would try to spot me at 26 miles. I made it to the A marker and sat down. I had no cell phone, no water and no idea where I was. The longer I sat there, the more worried I got about Paul’s safety. I was shaking in the cold wind.
Police kept turning Paul away at different streets as they closed off the area. Somehow Paul made it to the area and when he didn’t see me he began yelling my name. I heard him, somehow. The family reunion area was in disarray. Cell phone service was interrupted. The Green Line on the T was shut down.
In the thousands of people at the marathon that day, Paul unbelievably ran into a friend from Springfield. Since we had no way to get back to our hotel, he and his buddies offered us a ride. It was a long and complicated journey as roads were closed and traffic was backed up everywhere you turned. They also were trying to reunite with family but took the time to help us. I will always be grateful.
Memories of the 117th Boston Marathon are certainly not what I expected, but I don’t feel sorry for my experience. We were the lucky ones. My heart is heavy for the victims and the runners who couldn’t finish. The memories I keep are of the people of Boston. I will always remember the way the crowds along the marathon course made me feel – like a star, not because I was breaking any records, but because I was running.
Melissa Adler is a regular contributing writer for GREENE Magazine. Her topics include “Hail to the Chef” as well as other assignments. Having just completed her first Boston Marathon, we asked for her observations after the tragic events. We are thankful to have her back.