Boston tragedy: On the scene
Numerous executives within the sports industry were on-site when tragedy struck the Boston Marathon. SBJ/SBD gathered some of their personal stories from those horrible moments. For more from these accounts and others, see www.sportsbusinessjournal.com.
Senior Vice President, Retail Licensing
All the runners were in this state of confusion. We were all looking around, wondering what in the world had happened, why have we stopped. Within a minute or two, word began to circulate that there had been explosions at the finish line. One person said a boiler in one of the hotels had blown up. We didn’t know. We were literally close enough to see the finish line, way down the street and around the corner. That’s when this annoyance and confusion and anger turned into a unique combination of panic and camaraderie. People who had been agitated went for their cell phones, those that had them. I did not have my phone, so another runner offered to use his phone.
My wife and I had pre-arranged a spot down the course from the finish line to meet, so I took some comfort that she wouldn’t have been at the finish line. Still, I was absolutely panicked because I couldn’t get in touch with her.
The police kept us there, I don’t know, 30 to 45 minutes. They just said to stay where we were. There was this wonderful sense of camaraderie because it was 48 degrees, you go from sweating to shivering and cold, and people start bringing garbage bags to allow runners to put the bag over them for insulation. People brought water and food. As you looked around, people were having panic attacks and getting ill. At one point, this solid line of ambulances, fire trucks and police cars went by us going 50-60 mph down a city street. I thought at one point that I had seen 150 ambulances. Everybody knew it was a really serious problem. Runners were trying to console each other.
After being held in that area for 45 minutes or so, police said the race is over, you’re done, go around to the finish line down an alternate street. We all cooperatively headed that way to get to the busses, where all of our gear was. The first thing I did was get out my phone and text my wife. “Are you there,” I wrote. She immediately texted back, “Yes.” It was a pretty incredible moment. We met at a spot in the family meeting area and walked back to the hotel. I was so cold. Some of the volunteers came with thermal blankets. As I checked my phone, I had 117 emails and 70 text messages. Just about everyone I know was checking on me. That was pretty overwhelming.
This was my first Boston Marathon. Unfortunately, I was stopped 3/10 of a mile short, but in the grand scheme of things, that’s pretty insignificant. The race for 25.9 miles exceeded every expectation. I’ve run marathons and half marathons, and this was the pinnacle. One thing I keep thinking about is the three or four minutes I stopped, around the 10-mile mark, and took a few pictures with some friends who were cheering me on. If not for that three or four minutes I stopped, I would have been right in the middle of all the chaos at the finish line. I’ve played that over in my mind about 2,000 times.
New York Road Runners
I had spent the day watching from a variety of places, and I was at the finish line for about an hour to watch (1984 Olympic Marathon champion) Joan Benoit finish. I was enjoying the sunshine and watching these runners. Coming off our marathon, it was so good to be back in that environment, to have that feeling of shared camaraderie. I remember looking out at the finish line and thinking, “Wow, this is a lot of spectators.” I was with Josh Rowe from New Balance and a few of our staff, we were across the street from where the second bomb went off.
So after Joan finished in 2:52, which was just 30 minutes from her run 30 years ago, and she’s 52, we had some great photos at the finish line. As I often do with Boston, I jumped on the 1:15 p.m. train back to New York because I had to leave for London. About an hour into the train ride I get this text from Josh saying, “Our greatest nightmare has happened. Two explosions at the finish line.” At the same moment I started getting texts from friends in New York asking if I was OK. It was a shock. We spent the rest of the train ride checking in on a lot of people.
We got off the train in New York and WNBC was there, and after the interview we went to the office and just started checking in on people to make sure they were OK. We had 22 employees at the event. Then we checked with (Boston Athletic Association) folks. Then it’s members of the club who were running in Boston. Boston is such a goal and an aspiration for so many runners. All the way I was trying to just process everything. I spent the rest of the night getting our statement out — I didn’t want to talk to a lot of media, I just wanted to share our thoughts and prayers with Boston.
I got home and got big hugs from the family, and just spent time with them. The kids absorb this stuff, they are old enough to know what went on. I wanted to make sure they were OK. Then I just took it in, it was a restless night.
Senior Vice President, Marketing
The Competitor Group
|Revman, shown here in a Portland race, was across the street from the first blast.
We were departing the stands when the bomb exploded. It sounded like the musket rifle they shoot in the air to reenact Patriots’ Day. It’s so noisy at the finish line, so it wasn’t as loud to me, so I didn’t know something was wrong until I saw people running toward the explosion. The first responders started running through the crowd like fullbacks. It was impressive.
I personally never felt like I was in danger, but I had the responsibility with my daughter and her friend to get her home. We walked five miles from the Back Bay to Cambridge because the subway was closed.
I’ve had this hangover from the whole thing. I’m very bothered. I’m very much in a cloud these days, like I missed my exit on the freeway because I was daydreaming. It’s surreal to see the marathon in this way. Combining the Boston Marathon with the term “bombing” doesn’t correlate with me right now.
USA Today Sports Media Group
|Beusse (left) with friend Ed Lynch
Sports is at its best at marathons, I think. Most
|Beusse provided a photo before the explosions (above) and after, with smoke visible in the distance (below).
Runners are a fiercely committed community. I have no doubt the Boston Marathon will be no less epic next year than in any of its 117 years. People will enter and run for the causes they care most about. Hopefully the weather will, again, be as beautiful as ours was Monday. But next year, hopefully the ending will be about personal bests and accomplishments rather than about human tragedies.
Vice President of Sponsorship Sales
MLB Advanced Media
I’m from Boston originally and this was my fourth marathon. I finished about 20 minutes prior to everything. I was one street over at Copley — almost even with where the bomb was — when everything happened. At first I was like, “Holy shit. What was that?” Then it was like the running of the bulls. People were running everywhere. I called my wife and said something had happened and made sure she knew I was fine before cell service went out. I didn’t know what had happened, so I just kept walking and walked three or four miles. It was weird. You couldn’t see smoke or anything when the bomb went off. The ground just shook and it was loud. The guys at Fenway told me to come over there, but I said, “I’m not going over there. I’m getting the hell out of Boston.”
Being from the area, it’s one of those things that hits close to home. It could have easily been me or some of my loved ones. I’ll never forget what it sounded like. I don’t know what a sophisticated bomb sounds like but that was loud. The image of people running down the street in complete chaos will be a lasting image. Next year’s marathon will be extra special. I won’t miss it for the world.
Corporate Partnerships Account Manager
|Feldhausen and his sister, Trisha, who also ran the race, finished before the bombs exploded.
I was very impressed with how the extremely unfortunate situation was handled. Information was available via social media very quickly. Runners were very cooperative and understanding. Having spent some time in the med tent after my race I was impressed by how they had everything so well organized. Based off of this, I am not surprised with how quickly they responded to the needs of those affected by the explosions just before the finish line. There were many police and medical personal that helped out quickly in large part because of their proximity to the incident. I am proud of the way that the running community has come together — both at the initial time of need and over the past 24 hours.
Executive Sales Director
New England Patriots
|Oates (second from right) with his Team Golf Fights Cancer crew, which includes the PGA Tour’s Tim Hawes (fourth from left), MLBAM’s Jim McCloud (third from right) and, not pictured, Shaina “Shay” Aviles of the PGA Tour.
I think the situation, tragic as it is, was handled incredibly well. It was both amazing and chilling to see
|Brian Oates and family along the race route.
Turning onto Boylston Street as a marathoner is one of the most exhilarating feelings that regular Joe athletes can experience. I am sad, and it’s a shame that experience was denied to so many this year and changed forevermore for everyone else. That said, I am not going to let “them” win. I am going to focus on the countless acts of inspiration, generosity and courage that characterize the marathon and the many that are involved running, fundraising, organizing and supporting the event, and not the cowardice and hate of terrorists.