As the sun shone on a crisp spring New England morning, over 23,000 runners stretched their legs, fraternized with their friends and competitors and mentally prepared themselves for the biggest sporting event in New England. The Boston Marathon is the oldest marathon in the country and one of the world’s six great marathons. It has been held on Patriots Day, the third Monday of April, and a civic holiday in Massachusetts since 1897. The city of Boston becomes a city of spectators on “Marathon Monday” as it is sometimes called, and when the early Red Sox game at Fenway Park lets out, an estimated 500,000 people swell the streets to cheer for the runners.
The prestige of being one of those runners that the crowd has flocked to support coupled with the lauded history of the event makes the marathon an ambitious goal. Take into account the arduous times one needs to run to qualify and there emerges the perfect civic sporting event; a celebration of a city and a race that is watched by the world. That is why it was so devastating when two bombs went off at the finish line, killing three and injuring 264 people at the time of this writing.
The next thing Breese knew, one of his teammates who had been running well ahead of him was walking back towards him, telling him: “It’s over, it’s over, bombs at the finish line.” What Breese did not realize through his fatigue and shock was that bombs had actually been detonated. “I thought, oh, OK. Somebody must have called in a threat or they found what they thought was a bomb and they are evacuating and this is all just precautionary so that no one gets hurt.”
He was quickly told that bombs had actually gone off. Later, he learned that his wife and his brother were in the John Hancock bleacher seats less than one hundred feet from where the first bomb had gone off. “Through the wonders of modern technology,” Breese was able to confirm, by a chain of friends, that his wife and brother were safe. Breese was relieved, but started to think that the last place he wanted to be was standing in a crowd of a couple thousand people, buttressed by three- and four-story brownstones, with bombs going off. With the finish line still very much in sight, he cut off through some back roads that led him back to his friend’s apartment, where he met everyone.