Ajay Zutshi sat on Arlington St. long after the race ended, waiting for friends to pick him up but barely able to move his legs. Zutshi, who never reached the finish line, expressed shock at the incident. “As far as American cities go, Boston is one of the safest,” he said. “Things like this don’t happen in Boston.”
“I feel like whoever did this is trying to scare us, but I don’t think that’s going to happen,” said marathoner Ken Little after he had been reunited with his family. “I think it’s going to have the opposite effect.”
MIT fraternity Phi Kappa Theta, located just blocks from where the two bombs detnoated, opened its doors to marathon runners throughout the afternoon. “The house shook and it sounded like a big thunderclap, so I thought it was a passing thunderstorm,” recalled fraternity member Naren Tallapragada. “About 10 seconds later, I heard another explosion, and then I heard people shouting and screaming outside. That’s when I think we all realized.”
“We decided to let people in because the situation was pretty chaotic at the time — we didn’t know really what was going on, and then we took out some water,” said former fraternity president James Noraky.
Phi Kappa Theta members estimated that 200 people stopped by their stand throughout the course of the afternoon.
Graduate students from Boston University opened their doors as well, offering displaced runners a place to warm up and granola bars to eat.
Pamela and David Hyde wore their Australian nationality proudly on their cheeks, shivering together under a blanket as they tried to make their way back to a hotel in lockdown. “We won’t let this put us off, but it’s devastating,” Pamela Hyde said.
In the minutes after finishing the race, James Cooper recalled having “heard two distinct booms. I thought it might have been a reenactment.” An hour later, he and other runners wandered along the edge of the Boston Common, struggling to find their way back to hotels, family members, cars, and friends.
Jamie Casline crossed the finish line an hour before the bombs went off and said anger was the best word to describe his emotions regarding the event. “What’s the purpose of this? What is it they’re trying to do?” he asked.
Jeri Pugh, 61, ran her 90th marathon on Monday and her 15th in Boston. “I was just thinking that the decible level was unreal,” she said of the moments after she and other runners first learned of the explosion. “There was just a lot of anguish.”
The U.S. National Guard convened on the Common before loading on to school buses, some raising their arms in salute.
Marathoners wearing yellow jackets with marathon bags slung over their shoulders walked through the Common as the sun was setting. As the group ducked below the yellow police tape, one voice rose above the rest: “There’s the finish line we didn’t get to cross.”