After hearing two bombs explode “like cannons” near the finish of the Boston marathon on Monday, a group of Beach runners anxiously scanned the race results for names of people they knew.
Everyone in their group of 30 was safe, says Dave Emilio, founder of the Toronto Beaches Running Club. All but one finished well before the blasts, he said, and that runner was at a safe distance when the race was called off.
Others were not so lucky. Eight-year-old Martin Richard, 29-year-old Krystle Campbell and Lu Lingzi, a graduate student at Boston University were all killed when two home-made bombs exploded among spectators near the finish line.
More than 170 others were wounded, including 13 people who lost limbs.
“It hits really close to home,” said Emilio, speaking from Boston the day after the bombing. “It was very surreal for all of us.”
Walking around the city with his family and trying to soak it all in, Emilio said he spoke to several people who find it “maddening” that anyone would want to shatter such a feel-good event.
“It’s such a positive, glorious day,” he said. “It’s the premiere event of the year and the camaraderie you get between the 90 countries on average that come is amazing. Post-race, you’re high-fiving strangers.”
Something of that spirit survived on Tuesday, Emilio said, only instead of strangers shouting “Way to go!”, they are telling runners, “Glad you’re okay.”
Emilio said his initial reaction was to say he would not go back to Boston.
But a day later, after walking in a city where, on race day, Bostonians try singing the Canadian anthem when they see a maple-leaf jersey, Emilio had already changed his mind.
“You have to move on,” he said. “We’re going to come back and support the race, support the city.”