ARLINGTON — At 2:48 p.m. on April 15, Patti Crookshank had just finished her second Boston Marathon and met her husband Randy, who was taking photos inside the fence that lined Boylston Street near the finish line, to celebrate.
“It was a beautiful, sunny day, with a lot of spectators. It was really the perfect day for a run,” said Crookshank.
At 2:49 p.m., two bombs exploded near the finish line of the marathon, 13 seconds apart, killing three bystanders and injuring hundreds more.
In the chaos that followed, Crookshank couldn’t be sure what had happened. Her husband snapped some shots of a crowd of marathon finishers looking alarmed at the sound of an explosion and the sight of billowing smoke emerging from the sidewalk. When the second bomb went off, the Crookshanks realized that it was no accident.
“I finished the race and met my husband, who had a media pass so he was on the inside,” said Crookshank. “Once I finished, it was about five to eight minutes later that the first bomb went off. My husband and I hadn’t even turned the corner, we were still on Boylston. I remember 9/11, so I instinctively looked up. Then the second bomb went off and the Boston Police Department came running through the crowd. At that point, we realized there was a lot of panic, a lot of activity, so we moved away from the area.”
Crookshank is thankful that she did not witness the carnage that spread quickly on the Internet and social media sites and captivated readers for the ensuing four-day manhunt to find the perpetrators — who would eventually be identified as Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
The couple tried to contact their children in Washington, some of whom were still in class at local schools.
“At the time we didn’t know what was going on. There were firetrucks and ambulances everywhere. We heard there was a fire at the JFK Library. It was a pretty scary time. You weren’t sure if something else was going to happen,” said Crookshank. “My husband was able to get a hold of my oldest son, but the kids at school, we tried to text them, but text messages just weren’t going through.”
Crookshank describes returning to the Boston Athletic Club to retrieve her belongings.
“The gymnasium was literally filled with thousands of bags, and while I was looking for mine, every single bag was ringing or dinging from people getting calls and texts. It was a system overload.”
The couple finally drove outside of Boston to a friend’s house who had a landline telephone they used to contact family members and let them know they were okay. The gravity of the situation began to sink in.
“There was a huge police and military presence in Boston,” said Crookshank. “They set up a base camp for the National Guard and there were SWAT teams everywhere. You knew that it was something way bigger than you.”
Once the news of the casualties spread, Crookshank reflected on how lucky it is that she wasn’t just a few minutes slower, and that her husband was inside the race’s sidelines with press credentials.
“It is such a travesty. There are always thousands of spectators cheering and those were the people who were killed. The little boy who was killed, his father ran the race and he just wanted to watch and eat his ice cream,” she said. “People were not only hurt, they were maimed. I hurt my hip in the race, but I have two legs. I can run again.”
And she will. Crookshank was just cleared by her doctor to begin running again after hurting her hip at the end of the marathon, and her first race back at full health couldn’t be more appropriate — Arlington’s Boston Marathon Solidarity Run.
The Boston Marathon Solidarity Run, hosted by the Arlington Runners Club, is set for Saturday, June 8, at the Arlington Airport Trail, with the starting line located behind the Stillaguamish Athletic Club at 4417 172nd St. NE in Arlington. All proceeds from the $25 registration fees will be donated to the One Fund Boston, a charity to support victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
Jon Hatfield, director of the ARC, felt that the running community was especially impacted by the attacks on Boston.
“We want to do something to support the families of people who were killed, and to help the victims who were injured and their families as well,” he said. “The Boston Marathon is something that all runners would love to do. It’s near and dear to their hearts.”
“I think the One Fund is incredible,” said Crookshank. “It’s amazing that all the city of Boston and everyone around the country is coming together in the face of a tragedy. I think it’s great that Arlington is doing this. They are 3,000 miles away. It just shows that when something bad happens, it’s the good that shines through.”
Race registration begins at 7:45 a.m., with the 10-kilometer race starting at 9 a.m. For more information or to register visit www.arlingtonrunnersclub.org.