BOSTON, Mass. — Gary Allen was resting in the media center at the Copley Fairmount Hotel Monday afternoon when suddenly the nearby finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon was transformed from a point of celebration to a crime scene.
“It was violent, violent,” said Allen, a Great Cranberry Island native who some 50 minutes earlier had completed the 26.2-mile race from Hopkinton to Boston for the 21st time in his running career. “There was a heavy concussion that didn’t sound right, and it shook the building.
“Everybody in the media center stopped what they were doing in reporting the race and looked up, and maybe 10 seconds later there was a second explosion. It all felt angry and violent.”
Two explosive devices went off near the Boston Marathon finish line at approximately 2:50 p.m., and Allen and the rest of those in the media center were locked down in that facility until about 7:30 p.m. as emergency personnel scrambled to aid runners and spectators affected by the explosions and law enforcement officers searched the area for evidence.
“There was police tape everywhere, and windows were blown out of buildings as high as four stories,” said Allen, who received media center access through his status as director of the Mount Desert Island Marathon. “There were ATF, police, SWAT teams, and there were helicopters hovering overhead.”
““It was surreal. We lost some of our innocence today in a very real sense.”
The 56-year-old Allen, who is recovering from an injury he suffered earlier this year while completing a 700-mile charity run from Maine to Washington, D.C., had expected to complete this year’s Boston race in about 4 hours but crossed the finish line on Boylston Street in 3 hours, 13 minutes, 56 seconds.
According to video taken at the finish line, the race clock was at just over 4 hours, 9 minutes when the first explosion occurred along the left side of Boylston Street.
“I ran by two live bombs,” said Allen.
Allen said none of his circle of friends who either ran the race or were on hand to provide support were injured, but at least three people — including a child — reportedly were killed during the incident and more than a hundred others were injured.
He added that approximately 4,500 runners who had passed the 25-mile mark but had not yet completed the race before the explosions took place were re-routed away from the finish line to the Boston Common.
“They never finished the race,” Allen said. “I’m still here in my running clothes, I haven’t showered and I’ve got my finishing medal around my neck, but I’d give it back in a heartbeat if everyone would be OK.”