Last week, I shared my personal thoughts on the Boston Marathon bombing. In the article, I noted I knew several people I knew were at the marathon, one in particular was Tony Reed, Co-Founder and Executive Director of NBMA (National Black Marathon Association ) and his family.
After speaking with Tony last week, he was finally able to recount his experience at the Boston Marathon and give a few running tips. I wanted to share his story.
2013 Boston Marathon Afterthought
Tony Reed, CPA, NBMA Co-Founder & Executive Director
Prior to writing about the Boston Marathon tragedy, I wanted to take some time to see how some of the events played out and to compose my thoughts at home, rather than at Boston. As some might say, “I wanted to sleep in my own bed, first.” I also wanted to make sure that our members were accounted for.
My son-in-law (Brandon), wife (Deborah), and I were at Boston to watch my wife’s daughter, Jaulik, run her first Boston Marathon. We were also there to support the other NBMA (National Black Marathon Association) members. It was by God’s Grace, that we had the opportunity to see her. She was on target to run a PR before she was stopped at 25.5 miles.
While many of our fellow NBMA members were aware of my family’s presence at the race through my pictures and updates on Facebook I left out one important bit of information while posting photos. We were in the building, that was directly across the street, from the second explosion when it occurred. We were caught up in a stampede of people as we ran for our lives from an unknown force. It was scary. However, in chaos and with hind sight, there are lessons to be learned.
Deborah and I were separated from Brandon during the chaos. We hoped that Jaulik was safe because she was about 30 minutes away from finishing. Once we were outside the building, there was further chaos. It was that this time that we learned about the explosion.
A confused runner, who had just finished the race, asked to use my cell phone to call his family members. They were at the finish line. He had not retrieved his phone and clothes from the bag drop area. He didn’t know where it was in the confusion. RECOMMENDATION #1: CARRY YOUR CELL PHONE DURING A RACE.
In the excitement of finishing the race and the confusion from the explosion, the runner had a difficult time remembering phone numbers. He remembered his wife’s cell phone number, who was at the finish line. However, he couldn’t remember his daughter’s home number. It occurred to me that I haven’t memorized our six children’s cell and home phone numbers and/or their spouses. And in this situation, I probably would have forgotten them. RECOMMENDATION #2: CARRY A CARD OR ID WITH OTHER EMERGENCY CONTACT PHONE NUMBERS.
After locating Brandon, our concern turned to Jaulik. Where was she? Were the runners going to be re-routed to an alternate finish line? What was going to happen? We decided to walk the course backwards in the hopes of finding her. She was with the crowd of runners at 25.5 miles. This was a huge relief. There wasn’t an aid station at this point in the race. Runners were getting dehydrated. RECOMMENDATION #3: CARRY FLUIDS WITH YOU DURING A MARATHON.
Some of the runners also had to go to the restroom. Unfortunately, the businesses were on lock-down and didn’t allow people inside. We were fortunate that a frat house allowed us inside to use their facilities.
After the race was called off, we walked with the other runners along the course to the finish line area. We didn’t know what to expect. As we walked, we decided not to take the light rail back to the hotel. We didn’t want to be in a mass group of people for fear of another explosion. We were unable to locate the new bag pick up area. After about 30 minutes, we found it. However, they had not found her bag. (We ended up leaving Boston without it.)
Those, who saw our NBMA webinar about international marathons, know that I stressed the following…RECOMMENDATION #4: RUN WITH YOUR ID AND ENOUGH MONEY TO TAKE A CAB BACK TO THE START/FINISH LINE AREA AND YOUR HOTEL.
Runners who didn’t have any cash or put it in their drop off bags had to wait to get their belongings before leaving the area or borrow money from bystanders. RECOMMENDATION #5: DON’T PUT ANYTHING IN YOUR DROP OFF BAG THAT YOU CHERISH, INCLUDING YOUR CAR KEYS AND WALLET.
Afterwards, I called all of the NBMA members, who provided me with their phone numbers, to check on them and their safety as some of them traveled to Boston alone. Fortunately, they were all safe.
I’m grateful for the support and care from individuals and businesses that are reaching out the runners, bystanders, race volunteers, and the runners’ supporters. If you want to help the victims, please make a donation to www.OneFundBoston.org.