One year ago, on April 15, 2013, Kara Zech Thelen and Terry Carella both managed to cross the finish line at last year’s Boston Marathon minutes before two bombs exploded at 2:49 p.m. Both felt the shock of the events of that day, but the co-workers and friends are not deterred from running this year’s race. They will toe the start line in Hopkinton, Mass., on Patriot’s Day like every Boston marathoner has done for the past 118 years.
Zech Thelen, who finished the 2013 race at the 3:44:04 mark, and Carella, who finished in 3:53:08, shared their experience with the media and on the Cooley blog site upon their return from last year’s race. American writer and runner Hal Higdon, who is a longtime contributor to Runner’s World Magazine and author of 34 books, knew that this story needed to be told. Both Cooley runners’ accounts of that day have been included in the recently released book 4:09:43. The book describes Boston 2013, “through the eyes of those who ran the race, their stories gathered from the social network.”
“It was eerily silent for several minutes (after the explosions) as I tried to gather myself and make sense of it all. Then the sirens sounded and the police cars rushed in,” recalls Zech Thelen. “That day will be engraved in my mind forever, but the tragic events have not scared me from returning to Boston. Instead, I look forward to joining my fellow runners once again, to collectively announce that no act of terror can chase us from our own streets—to join together to cultivate healing and peace.”
Carella didn’t realize that her decision to go back to finish line to get her medal would put her in harm’s way.
“I had gone through the finish chute, received the blanket they give each finisher, grabbed some food, and made it to the race buses, when I asked someone about the medals,” said Carella.
“I had to go back several blocks, making my way against all the finish traffic. As I got near the finish area, I heard an enormous blast then saw a tremendous amount of smoke. I said to the woman next to me, ‘This is not good.’ A few seconds later, we heard and saw the second bomb go off – then we all knew it was on purpose. At that point we all walked as fast as we could to get away from the area.”
As for this year’s Boston, Zech Thelen and Carella each have been doing the usual hard training needed to prepare for a marathon, but running in Boston 2014 will be especially meaningful.
“As always, it is an honor to be a part of the world’s oldest and most prestigious marathon,” stated Carella. “This year’s event will mean more. It also will be a celebration of the enormous strength and heart of the Boston community. Last year’s tragic events only affirmed my faith, hope and trust in the core goodness of most people.”