Glastonbury runner recounts events at Boston Marathon

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Thu., Apr. 18, 2013
Glastonbury runner Kate Rich hugs her two daughters just moments after the explosions at the Boston Marathon on April 15. Photo courtesy of Kate Rich. - Contributed Photo

“Eerie,” “chilling” and “surreal” were words a local woman used to describe her experiences at the Boston Marathon on April 15, and the scene at the aftermath of the two explosions that made world-wide headlines.

Glastonbury resident Kate Rich was taking part in her first Boston Marathon. A runner for years, she had completed other marathons, but had been particularly looking forward to the one in Boston, for several reasons.

“It's such a historical event. It's a day of celebration and a family event, so it was a dream for me to do this,” she said. “It was emotional for me to finish the marathon. My father had passed away within the past two weeks. He had run the marathon back in 1975, so there was a lot of meaning for me. I was emotional. I was doing it with a heavy heart. I wanted to complete it, because for me, it was symbolic. It was my dream to do this.”

Rich finished the race well before the explosions, but had just received her medal and was about to meet her husband and daughters at the designated family area when the first explosion happened.

“It was very loud,” she said. “I was about a block away, and nobody knew what was happening. I could see the smoke billowing up. It was very surreal and weird.”

Rich said many people around her thought it was some sort of cannon, or a transformer. Within minutes, the sound of sirens was all she could hear.

Thankfully, she had just spoken with her husband and knew he was another block further away from the explosions. She was also able to call him again right afterward, and knew he and her twin girls were safe. Her brother and niece were also at the race, but Hunt's husband had already spoken to them, as well.

“I was very lucky, because I had just talked to him. Fortunately, we were all able to connect and meet,” she said, adding that her group made their way to their hotel, amidst a crowd scene that quickly turned chaotic.

“At this point, people were panicking, and thinking terrorists, and not really knowing what was going on,” she said. “They were afraid that there were going to be more explosions. It was very eerie. Everyone was just sort of standing there. Nobody knew which direction to go. People started scattering, but most of the law enforcement officials were moving into where the explosions took place.”

Rich and her group still had to get to their car, which was parked at the Riverside T station, several miles west of the city. They were told they had to use the outbound station near Fenway Park, which was many blocks away. With the area near the marathon's finish line still chaotic and being sealed off by authorities, they were forced to walk around the area to get to the station. Rich, who had gone to school in Boston, was familiar with the area, so they were eventually able to reach their car and head home safely.

“It was a round-about route,” Rich said. “The whole time, emergency vehicles were rushing in. The whole city was very chaotic.”

While Rich said she didn't see debris or injured people, the scene was “chilling,” because a small twist of fate may have been what prevented her from being closer to the finish line at the time of the explosions.

“I had pulled a calf muscle going up the last hill, 'Heartbreak Hill,' as I got near the top,” she said. “I was able to power through it, and get through the last six miles, but I was very sore. When I finished, I wanted to get some ice, and there was the medical tent right at the finish line. I made my way there, but ran into a medic on the way. She, thank goodness, redirected me and told me there was ice further up. I was thankful I didn't hang around there.”

Rich said the shock of having just completed the marathon and then dealing with the chaotic surroundings made her feel temporarily numb, which was probably a good thing.

“I didn't have the sense to panic,” she said. “I was worried about my family, but I was just kind of so exhausted already, I think that kind of helped. We were just going through the motions and working quickly to get out. Looking back, it's just scary to think about how close we actually were. It's scary and sad to think about the runners. It's a huge accomplishment and achievement to get into the marathon, and everybody dreams about running through that finish line.”

Rich said that after the marathon, her first reaction was to not run in the Boston Marathon again, but then thinking about how the race may have that stigma in the future has actually motivated her to want to take part again.

“I want to see the tradition continue,” she said. “It's such a huge day in Boston, now more than ever I want to be a part of it.”

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