April 15, 2013: The day Boston learned how strong it is

Boston Marathon, explosion, old man, runner, falling, guns drawn
Police officers with their guns drawn hear the second explosion at the Boston Marathon. The first explosion knocked down a runner at the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon. Credit: Getty Images

John Stoller was about to finish his 26th mile at last year’s Boston Marathon. As he came through the final stretch of Boylston Street, he stopped to chat with friends in front of Forum restaurant.

“Usually I don’t stop,” says Stoller, who quickly chatted then continued past the finish line. “I received my medal and had gotten my bags …Then we heard the first blast.”

Meanwhile, above Sugar Heaven on Boylston Street, the staff of Marlo Marketing/Communications was celebrating their sixth annual Marathon Monday party when the first blast hit.

“There was a few seconds of deliberation — no one really knew if it was safer inside or on the street,” says Marlo Fogelman, principal of the company. “Then the second bomb went off and everyone just scrambled out onto the fire escape through the back windows.”

Down on the street, victims were tended to by first responders and good Samaritans. The fear of a third bomb detonating meant the crowd had to be removed, and fast.

On Stuart Street, family members who had just moments before been holding up signs of encouragement for runners were using them as a tool to find each other, fearing they had been killed in the blast.

“You see these runners in their foil blankets walking around either completely lost, or just with a look that you never forget,” said Stoller.

As authorities worked to identify the bombers during the next couple days, the city attempted to function. For MBTA Transit Officer Dic Donohue, the sense of a calm before the storm would certainly ring true by the end of the week.

“The next few days were very strange,” Donohue tells the Metro. “The usual bustling downtown area that I work in was quiet and entire streets were shut down.”

Police soon identified two suspects in the blasts. Video surveillance from Forum showed the brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were Chechen-born locals who resided in Cambridge. By Friday, they had allegedly murdered MIT Police Officer Sean Collier and led authorities on a violent chase.

Laura Glass slept in at her Cambridge home after staying up all night listening to the news. So when she awoke the next day to a uniformed FBI agent barging into her home, she started to put the pieces together.

“It only took me a few minutes to figure out what was going on — that the two brothers lived a few doors down from me,” said Glass.

Several of her neighbors had interacted with the brothers, who were known to give out candy on Halloween to the younger kids.

While older brother Tamerlan was killed, his younger brother Dzhokhar was apprehended in a dry-docked boat in a Watertown backyard. In the end, four people were left dead, and hundreds more injured.

But as the 2014 Boston Marathon nears, runners are ready to take on the 26.2 miles without a second thought.

“For runners it’s an emotional time,” says John Stoller, whose marathon apparel company, Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston, now donates a portion of all proceeds to the One Fund and other charities.

“Nobody cares about their time, or if they finish. The running community is just a nice group of people and they’re excited for this year.”



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