By Marta Zarrella
April 15, 2013, is a day that will be forever etched in the memories of Dr. Steve Tally and his wife Kris. On this day Kris was there to support her husband, though she is also an athlete.
Steve finished the race in 3:12:59, about one hour before the first blast. Steve and Kris had just sat down to enjoy lunch along the race route when the explosions occurred.
When they learned details of the two blasts that killed three and injured more than 170, the Tallys realized that Kris had been standing almost directly across the street from the location of the second bomb.
“Although I have been running for many years, this is only my second Boston Marathon, with the last one being in 2008. My main competitive focus is usually on Triathlon, but running Boston is something I feel honored to be able to occasionally do,” said Steve.
Steve is a psychologist who works at the University of California, San Diego. He has been participating in triathlons and marathons for about 12 years. He and Kris live in the San Diego Country Estates, which they consider the perfect place for triathlon training with miles of trails, hills for conditioning, and endless blue sky. Steve sometimes trains with members of the San Diego Triathlon club. Kris, who also is an avid marathon runner, works in the mortgage industry.
The Boston Marathon is run on the third Monday in April as part of the city’s celebration of Patriot’s Day. In 1896, Massachusetts Governor Fredric Greenhalge renamed an annual spring festival to Patriot’s Day. This holiday was intended to honor the memory of the battles of Lexington and Concord, as well as the bloodshed of the Civil War.
The marathon was first run in 1897 and was patterned after the Olympic Games in Athens. The first Boston Marathon was run by 15 young men who completed the race from Concord though Lexington and back to Boston. The route commemorates Paul Revere’s historic ride calling his countrymen to arms. Today, the marathon attracts runners from around the world, is America’s oldest event of this kind and is one of the most prestigious Marathons in the world.
“I wore a small GoPro camera on the bill of my running hat for the entire race,” said Steve. “This is not something I have ever done before, but Boston is so special I thought it would be fun to create a short video that would help people get the feel for what the entire experience is like.”
Due to the limited amount of battery, Steve would turn the camera on and off during the race.
“The battery in the camera had run low at about mile 22, so I left it off until mile 26 as I wanted to capture the finish. It didn’t quite last to the finish line, but did get enough footage to capture a good shot just past mile 26 where bomb No. 2 would later go off. I sent the images to the police and FBI as soon as I arrived home Tuesday night, knowing they were trying to create a timeline showing when any suspicious objects might have appeared at the scene.”
The first bomb was at the finish line, which was 2 and a half blocks up the street from where the Tallys were waiting to have lunch. It was loud but distant. They and others in the restaurant were quiet for a moment, unsure what the sound was.
When the second explosion occurred 12 seconds later, it was much louder. Tally said he felt that explosion, turned to his wife and said, “That was a bomb.”
There was silence again, until a large group of panicked people ran down the street screaming and yelling “run!” According to Tally, this was the most dangerous and upsetting part. That crowd of pedestrians and spectators off Boylston Street across from the bomb were attempting to escape the chaos of the bomb site. The panic was severe, and people were being pushed and knocked to the ground as the crowd attempted to flee. No one knew if there might be a further attack from a gunman or more bombs.
Tally and his wife found a safe place where they could not see the bomb site, but were protected and able to assess the situation. They saw smoke everywhere, heard uncountable sirens, and saw a phalanx of Boston Police running together toward an officer who said there were bombs in trash cans along the street. The Tallys and others were told to “shelter in place” inside the lobby area of a shopping plaza.
Bystanders, runners (both those who had finished and those who were diverted from the course), and their families began to accumulate. Eventually the restaurants along the street one block from Boylston opened their doors to all in an effort to provide a safe and comfortable place to wait out the stressful hours after the blasts while police and National Guard looked for more bombs.
The Tallys waited in an area of a Cheesecake factory restaurant. They saw a number of ambulances go by the window, then saw the same scene on a TV broadcast of CNN, an experience Steve called surreal.
“We, along with a Boston couple who had come out to watch the race, tried to ‘rescue’ runners who had been diverted from the course and ended up in there with us,” he said. “As cell service had been shut down, these runners had no idea where their family was, and vice versa. They had nothing but what they were wearing during the race, and were cold, disoriented, and understandably (in) shock.”
Since these runners were not able to finish the race, they did not check out, get water, food, or foil blankets to ward off chill.
“The Boston couple we had met bought warm or cold drinks, bread or other food, and anything else these runners needed, and wouldn’t hear of anyone paying for anything,” he said. “We all tried to share sweatshirts, cell phones — once they were back on — and anything we could to help people out. One of the most heartwarming moments of the day was a tearful reunion between a runner, her family, and fiancé after hours of worry and uncertainty. Finally, after many stressful hours, the police sounded the all clear and said people could return home.”
Steve and Kris were never in any real danger, but the perception of danger, chaos, and the shock of being so close to such evil has very much stayed with them. Steve ran in the ITU Triathlon at Mission Bay here in San Diego on Saturday, April 20. Kris came to support her husband again and was wary the entire day being out in crowds again at a public event.
When asked for final thoughts, Tally said, “before this race and event, my wife and I had decided it would be fun to go to the Boston Marathon every few years, but not attend every year due to schedules and expense. Up until the time we walked in our front door, the 2014 Boston Marathon was the last thing on my mind. Now, I feel it will be important to go next year to be a small part of the closure and healing for that wonderful city, and watch the many returning runners who were not able to complete the race finally cross that finish line.”