MIT runners write about their marathon experiences

MIT runners write about their marathon experiences

Masashi Hirose G

(2nd year in Boston Marathon)

Training and the race: I started to train for the marathon when I came to Boston in 2009. I was a member of the track and field club and ran mainly 1500m in junior high school and high school in Japan. I regularly join races such as 5k, 10K, half marathon and team relay with friends. The daily training is to run 5-8 miles along Charles River or Fresh Pond about four times a week.

On the explosion: Except this disastrous event, the conditions of the Boston marathon this year, such as weather, temperature and well-organized logistics, were perfect. I am really sorry that this tragic event jeopardized all the efforts and hopes of runners and supporters. This tragedy happened just a few meters before the goal, which is the crowning moment for runners to pass. It must be really hard for runners who feel almost relieved from the pain accumulating over 26.2 miles to respond to this abrupt event rationally.

Megan Ellis Bonney G

(1st year in Boston Marathon)

Training and the race: I started training specifically for this race in January though I run year round. I had a wonderful experience at the marathon today. I got to be in community with so many other talented runners, feel the power of the Wellesley scream tunnel, and test myself on the Newton Hills. I managed to run a minute faster than my previous best time, which I was happy with as well. Overall, the race was challenging but inspiring and fun…everything I hoped Boston would be.

On the explosion: When the blast went off I had started walking with my parents and brother on Boston Common. We heard the two loud blasts. My mother was quite concerned. I also thought it was odd, but chalked it up to some sort of Patriots Day celebration. We then went to the T at Park Street and headed back to Kendall. When we arrived in Kendall and got a call that it was a bomb, I was extremely upset — I still had teammates and friends at the race. The whole experience still feels surreal. I can’t believe that a place that is such a symbol of triumph became so terrible.

Felix Moser G

(3rd year in Boston Marathon)

Training and the race: I usually train 3 months leading up to a race. Today’s race was my personal best. I ran 2:34:18, almost 10 minutes off my previous personal record, good enough for 128th overall. It’s been a long-time goal of mine to break 2:40, and to do that at Boston was amazing. A lot of friends from MIT came out and cheered for me, too, which also meant a lot to me. The Boston Marathon is my favorite race. The logistics are handled with sublime professionalism, the crowd support is unparalleled, the volunteers are amazing, and heck, it’s Boston!

On the explosion: I passed through the finish line at around 12:35, so well before the explosions. I was home at Sidney-Pacific when it happened. One of my labmates called me to ask if I was alright; that’s how I found out. My immediate thoughts were of the friendly faces of the volunteers at the finish line and how I hoped nobody was hurt. I’ve been following the events throughout the day online. The pictures and videos are horrific. I recognize so many details of that scene. The finish line. The dense, cheering crowd. The gold-jacketed volunteers. The Marathon Sports storefront (I usually buy my shoes from there). The line of flags they routed us by. I probably passed within a few meters of that first bomb. It seems mostly spectators were hurt. I think of my friends cheering in the crowd and shudder at the thought that they could have been there. I spent most of the day angry, wishing I could do more than read news sites. This was very personal. Runners are a big family, and this happened to all of us. We’re all hurting today. But especially, my heart goes out to the victims and their families. I read that one of the dead is an 8 year-old child.

I was also impressed by the outpouring of support from the community in helping the stranded runners, who were unable to retrieve their belongings, catch their flights, return to their hotels, etc. Within hours, a website had gone up containing information of thousands who had volunteered to host stranded runners. And that’s only a vignette of the support the community rallied.

Ranbel Sun

(1st year in Boston Marathon)

Training and the race: This was my first Boston Marathon, and despite having bricks for legs during the last couple of miles, I was grinning like a madcat during the run. I only started running less than 3 years ago when I decided to check off a bucket list item and do a marathon. After that experience, the thought of qualifying for Boston (“running a BQ”) latched onto my mind. To qualify, you have to run a sanctioned marathon in a required time based on age and gender. The BQ training process was more mentally grueling than any exam, and crossing the finish line in the required time was comparable to receiving the MIT admissions tube. Thus, to me, the Boston Marathon was much more than a 26.2-mile run: it was the reward for months of sweat and discipline. My training for Boston was less intense — I started prepping in January and ran an average of 30 miles per week. My goal on Monday was to have fun, and the energy of the crowds went above and beyond my expectations.

On the explosion: I crossed the finish line around 2 p.m. and hobbled over to a grassy area a few blocks away to take a break. I heard what sounded like a blast of cannon fire and dismissed it as a traditional celebratory salute. A few minutes later, I started getting texts asking “I heard about the marathon. Are you okay?” It seemed a bit strange that people were concerned for my well-being rather than giving the typical congratulatory messages. I did not have internet access and my phone reception was terrible, so I didn’t know what was going on. Then I heard people around me talking about a possible gas explosion. It seemed so random that I shrugged it off as a minor incident. I did not hear the supposed second explosion. Eventually, through my post-marathon exhausted haze, I connected the explosions to the “Are you okay” messages and started getting a sense that something more serious had happened. The malicious and devastating nature of the event only really hit me when a shocked pedestrian stopped me on the street rambling about bombs, casualties, and limbs being blown off.

Now, I don’t feel like someone who ran Boston but rather someone who survived a terror attack. It seems unfair to the victims to bask in the glow of my dream marathon. However, it was certainly an experience I’ll never forget, and it has not affected my desire to participate in future events.