Kevin often travels to places that have been in the news . . . places like South Sudan and Haiti . . . and invariably, someone asks me if I’m worried. But no one asked me if I was worried as Kevin prepared to leave for the Boston Marathon.
Kevin had qualified last year at the Calgary Marathon Charity Challenge, and we were excited that he would have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to run Boston. It was his first international race, and his first “big” race. I had wished I could go cheer him on, but finances and logistics kept me at home. Instead, I followed Kevin’s progress online on Monday morning, watching the first few men & women cross the finish line and seeing Kevin’s 30 km splits before heading out to a previous commitment. I almost stayed home to cheer long distance – I’m so glad I didn’t.
As I walked back in the door after lunch, I headed to the athlete tracking page still open on my computer, so I knew Kevin had finished with a chip time of 3:11 – good enough to re-qualify for Boston and only a couple minutes slower than his personal best. I responded to a friend’s facebook message of ”please update us on Kevin’s race and let us know he is ok” as a typical proud wife. And then the phone rang.
That was the first I heard of the explosions in Boston. And suddenly my friend’s facebook message made a lot more sense. I ran down to the computer again, grateful to see that Kevin had sent me a text not 4 minutes previously. He was fine – and I knew right away. Thank God for small blessings. Soon after I learned that two other friends at Boston were also okay. I spent the next couple hours following the news, sharing that Kevin was okay on social media, and responding to messages and phone calls – even one from the local newspaper. Information about a potential third explosion hit the news. And when one of my daughters told me that night that she was worried that there would be another explosion at Daddy’s hotel, it just about broke my heart. I continued to pray for Kevin and others in Boston – but I just wanted Kevin home.
Kevin had a fabulous race – Boston really outdoes itself for the marathon, and Kevin said he’d never seen so many people cheering runners on.
After he finished, he had headed up to the hotel room that he was sharing with another Calgary runner – right near the finish line. He showered up and was resting when his roommate came in and told him to turn on the news. Not long after, another Calgary runner – a friend of Kevin’s roommate – who was within a minute or two of the finish line at the time of the explosions came up to their room. He couldn’t finish, and couldn’t pick up his checked bag with his hotel key and such, and needed a place to warm up after running 40+ km. Kevin texted his wife on his behalf . . . and I learned later that she had been following him online and knew exactly that he was close to finishing when she heard about the explosions . . . I can only imagine how long those minutes were between when she heard and when she received that text.
The after party was cancelled, of course, and the police line was right outside Kevin’s hotel, so they pretty much stayed put until heading to the airport the next day . . . only to be caught up in the American Airlines mess. Kevin wouldn’t be coming home for another day. By now, that third explosion had been reported to be an unrelated fire, and Kevin was well away from downtown . . . but still, I’ve rarely been as happy to have Kevin home as I was on late Wednesday night!
I wish that the Boston Marathon had been “just another race” for Kevin – this wasn’t quite the race of a lifetime that we were anticipating. I wish that the whole marathon wouldn’t be boiled down to “where were you when the explosions happened?” But the fact of the matter is that a joyous celebration of fitness and endurance turned into a tragedy. Calgary had a “Run for Boston” on Saturday, and our family was there. Kevin’s was by no means the only blue 2013 Boston jacket. Now we wait, along with so many others, as law enforcement officials try to answer the “why” behind the Boston Marathon bombings. And we continue to pray.