The morning of this year’s Boston Marathon, members from the UVA Club of Boston arrived at what has become the group’s usual spot to hand out water and cheer runners on: mile 25, right next to Fenway Park.
It was about a mile from where the bombs exploded near the finish line that day.
Like many people along the race route, we had no idea about the bombings when the first occurred, and confusion reigned as information poured in slowly.
As the captain of the volunteers, Thuy Lam (Col '02) first heard the news from an exhausted runner and his father. But marathoners were still running and we continued to hand out fluids. As the minutes went by, however, passing spectators confirmed our fears.
“It was one of the most difficult and surreal moments I have ever experienced,” Thuy said. “I only wanted to call my husband, but cell service was cut. I knew I had to stay calm.”
Within an hour after the blasts, police and military personnel were everywhere. Helicopters circled overhead and ambulance sirens cried out.
Lauren Jones (Col '05), a veteran volunteer and avid photographer, had left the station early and was on her way to the finish line to try to snap a few pictures when the bombs went off. She saw panicked runners and police ordering people to go home “as fast as possible. We had no idea if there were more bombs.”
Lauren and a friend escorted four exhausted runners to their homes near the race route and gave them trash bags for warmth and a place to recover.
Considering the events that occurred that day, we were surprised by the gratitude people were able to show hours after the race. As one of our members left a train that night, still wearing their yellow marathon volunteer jacket, a runner came up to them and thanked them for their simple act of handing out cups of water.
Despite the fear and destruction of that day, we, like many thousands of others who were at the race that day, remain resolved that on Monday, April 21, 2014, we will be back at mile 25 on what locals here call Marathon Monday, ready to help any way we can.