While many Miami University students may have followed the recent Boston Marathon bombing news coverage, four students experienced the tragedy firsthand. Seniors Kristen Figas, Nicholas Kelly and Jeremy Miner, along with junior Adrian Kimmett, members of Miami’s running club, qualified for and ran in this year’s Boston Marathon.
According to Figas, Kelly, Miner and herself had finished the race and were a couple blocks away, walking back to their hostel, when the bombs went off. According to the others, Kimmett had remained at the race in order to meet up with her mom. Kimett was unavailable for comment.
“Nick and Jeremy had heard a noise and I must have been dazed from the race still or something because I don’t remember hearing it, but I do remember hearing them say, ‘What was that?'” Figas said. “It wasn’t super loud, but we were walking right by the subway, so they thought ‘Oh, maybe that’s a train.'”
Kelly said he remembers hearing a loud noise, but attributed it to the subway station.
“We were like two blocks down when we heard a loud bang,” Kelly said. “…It sounded like a gunshot or explosion, but it was one of those times when you think you heard something like that, but it’s never actually a gunshot or an explosion or anything like that.”
Miner also said he recalls hearing the explosion.
“I remember when we were walking back from the race I heard a loud sound,” Miner said. “I don’t think I heard more than one, but I didn’t really think anything of it until later on. I didn’t really see anyone like running from the area or anything like that.”
Figas said after returning to their hostel and showering, runners in the hallway asked if she had heard about the bombings at the finish line.
“It was hard to think about it in my head because you go from being so ecstatic and just blissful,” she said. “It’s just an amazing experience because so many people come out to support, and then it was just confusing to even hear that and it’s hard to think about it as the same event. It’s just really, unbelievably sad.”
Kelly said, after returning to the hostel, he received a text message from Kimmett, who was still at the finish line looking for her mom.
“She was like, ‘Explosions and police,’ and I’m like, ‘Are you ok?’ and then cell service had dropped out at that point, so I never got a text back from her,” he said. “It was kind of scary for a while, but fortunately she showed up at the hotel within like 10 minutes, so she was alright.”
According to Figas, they then went to a television room in the hostel where the news was on and it was packed with marathon runners trying to figure out what was going on.
“At that time, they were trying to locate more explosives and there were rumors that they found more under the stands and things like that, so everything was just going haywire,” Figas said. “Everyone was freaking out trying to hook up with their families, but, of course, cell service was out.”
Both Figas and Kelly said experiencing the bombings first-hand has made them think about similar events differently.
“It just seems surreal,” Figas said. “All events of this nature, to a certain extent, seem surreal to me. I just can’t imagine that someone would do that and that that could happen. Being there, it makes it even more so. I can’t even think about it as one event still-I’m having trouble reconciling the race with the explosions.”
Figas went on to say how personally the attack has hit the running community as a whole.
“It has a significance I guess also because it hit the running community, which I’ve always been a part of and probably will be for a very long time,” she said. “I re-qualified at this race to run Boston next year and I really want to do it. I want to do it because it’s this awesome experience with such supportive people, but I feel like it has another layer to it now, where I want to do it to support Boston…I’m going to be repping Boston forever.”
Figas, Kelly and Miner all said they appreciate the support they have received, and that the support they have seen other runners receive has meant a lot to them. Figas and Miner both said they have friends who also run who have not previously participated in marathons, but have decided to try to qualify for the Boston Marathon next year in order to show support.