Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Maureen Bodkin has been running marathons since 2005. Since then it has been her goal to run the prestigious Boston Marathon.
Bodkin, also the nurse at Beech Hill Elementary School near Summerville, had run nine marathons before, including the Cooper River Bridge Run and the New York City Marathon.
She and her 14-year-old son Christopher Bodkin (a Gregg Middle School eighth grader) flew into Boston that Saturday and met Bodkin’s aunt and uncle who live about 40 minutes outside the city. Her husband planned to go with her but hurt his back a week before and stayed home, she said.
Christopher and Bodkin’s aunt and uncle Gail and Bill Rider were spectators while she ran in the marathon.
Bodkin crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon that fateful Monday at 2:25 p.m., about 25 minutes before the bombs exploded, she said.
“When you finish the runners keep moving,” Bodkin said. “There were shoulder-to-shoulder medical people to give you water, Gatorade, food and heat sheet blankets that keep runners warm. You get cold after running. It was windy.”
She had planned to meet her aunt, uncle and son at a nearby restaurant right behind the buildings where the explosions were, she said.
At 2:48 p.m. and 2:49 p.m. Bodkin exchanged casual text messages with Mr. Rider. At 2:50 p.m. the bombs detonated.
“We heard the explosions, felt them,” she said of her experience walking down the street surrounded by other runners who had finished. “I was with strangers. We didn’t think it was anything bad.”
She overheard someone nearby say it was a strange day to be doing construction.
“It was loud . . . something that made you stop.”
Although Bodkin was only half a block away from the explosions, which were about 10 seconds apart, she said she couldn’t see anything because of the tall city buildings.
“Three minutes later people started running, saying there were bombs . . . We saw smoke. There was a smell in the air.”
At 2:52 p.m. her uncle contacted her to make sure she was OK, which she was.
At 2:53 p.m. she was aware the explosions were bombs and called her husband to tell him she was safe. Bodkin soon found her aunt, uncle and son and departed in her uncle’s car by 3:15 p.m. She said he had found a good parking space that was not in a parking garage.
“We got out right before it got hard to get out. By the time we got to the car word was traveling. We could tell by people screaming and crying, running our way from down the street. They looked really frightened . . . We didn’t know if there were going to be more bombs.
“I feel blessed and fortunate that my family and I were out of harm’s way. It’s sad nobody’s safe anywhere. I pray for all the people whose lives have been changed who came out just to have a great day.
“I would do (the) Boston (Marathon) again. If you start running marathons there’s an allure because you have to qualify (for Boston). I qualified in 2011 and 2012. I’ve been running my entire adult life. Boston was my goal. It’s one of the oldest sporting events. There’s a lot of history there.
“It was going to be memorable, but I didn’t know it would be this memorable.
Bodkin said this is was the 117th Boston Marathon. She said runners lined up at 7 a.m. and at 10 a.m. started running the 26.2 miles to the finish line.
“You train, and it does hurt a little bit.”
She said there were no delays leaving the Boston airport on the Tuesday after but there were many security and police officers with big guns and several dogs. Each runner received a commemorative blue jacket with a Boston Marathon logo on it.
“The runners leaving had the blue jackets on.”
The Thursday before she left for Boston her school threw her a surprise parade to send her off. Two of Bodkin’s daughters attend Beech Hill Elementary.
The school was tracking Bodkin during the marathon and called her at 3:15 p.m. that day to make sure she was safe. BHES Principal Rene Harris sent an automated call to parents to alert them she was OK since many students who attended her sendoff parade knew she was in Boston.
Bodkin has stayed tuned to the news and had several newspapers on her desk about the Boston explosions. Some were dotted with highlighters and markers to show where she and her family members were during the explosions.
She returned to work on April 17 and received several hugs.
“It’s strange to come back and have a regular day when blocks of Boston are shut down as a crime scene. It’s really surreal.”
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