Runners Return to Brooklyn After Boston Bombings

As published in The Brooklyn Ink:

In this photo provided by The Daily Free Press and Kenshin Okubo, people react to an explosion at the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (PHOTO: AP Photo/The Daily Free Press, Kenshin Okubo)

In this photo provided by The Daily Free Press and Kenshin Okubo, people react to an explosion at the 2013 Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts. (PHOTO: AP Photo/The Daily Free Press, Kenshin Okubo)

Today, a Brooklyn resident and member of North Brooklyn Runners group, Sole Mendez, is feeling lucky she has fast friends.

“Everyone I knew running this year is wicked fast,” she wrote in a message, “otherwise I would have still been out there cheering on the benches by the glass window that is no longer there.”

On the afternoon of what is supposed to be one of Boston’s most celebratory days, two explosions were felt and heard at the Boston Marathon’s finish line yesterday, killing three people and injuring more than 130 others. As authorities still seek a suspect, and as security remains at an all time high in Boston, runners and spectators from everywhere are left to pick up the pieces of a terrible tragedy.

Around 2:50 p.m., the first bomb detonated close to the finish line of the 116th annual Boston marathon at Boylston Street in Boston, MA. One Brooklyn resident and member of North Brooklyn Runners, Sole Mendez, was working in the Marathon Sports store, just steps down the street from where the first of the two explosions went off. Mendez says she used to work at the Marathon Sports store when she lived in Cambridge, and is called back to work on the day of the marathon each year.

The first explosion caused the storefront to shatter, and as the smoke plumes rose and flooded into the store, outside spectators found refuge inside the store, Mendez said.

“I’ve never seen so much blood, but that is not surprising,” Mendez wrote. “I am lucky to not see these things often.”

Many were in shock, some too busy trying to find loved ones to notice their own injuries. The scene was reportedly one of shock, disorientation and panic.

“People started pouring in from outside, many bleeding, and some who didn’t even know that they were injured. One woman kept asking if we knew where her daughter was, she didn’t even realize that she was bleeding severely from her leg. Another just out front had a severe knee injury,” Mendez wrote. “It didn’t even look like she had her knee anymore.”

Mendez says that she was impressed by the immediate impulse of what she calls the “heroic” response of her co-workers. As injured and bleeding spectators came into the doors, Mendez says that shirts were grabbed from the racks and put to use as temporary tunicates. “I didn’t immediately have that intuition,” Mendez wrote, “but started pulling the shirts off as soon as I saw.”

After the immediate recovery, Marathon Sports staff members were asked to vacate the scene, pushed out to Commonwealth Avenue, and later asked to leave that street, too. Leaving behind their bags, clothes, wallets and belongings, Mendez said she and coworkers shared cell phones to call loved ones, and were thankful to confirm that no one in their Marathon Sports store or the North Brooklyn Runners group was injured.

As Mendez drove back home with coworkers late last night, she reflected on the scene in a much calmer moment than the one she’d felt just hours earlier. “Some people took photos and reporters wanted to interview, but it caused frustration. People were searching desperately for their families,” she wrote. “It was a moment of despair.”

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