From the Archive: Kendrin’s Story 
I was spectating at the corner of Hereford and Newbury with my friend Kara when I heard the first explosion. A stranger standing next to us nervously asked, “What was that?” I assumed the noise was related to the festivities of the day and responded, “Don’t know, it’s too late in the day for a flyover.” Just moments later, we heard the second explosion. This time we were silent. Within seconds we knew something was terribly wrong. Spectators were fleeing from Boylston and police officers were waving for us to clear the area. A feeling of terror set in. I feared the worst and worried that our city was under attack, that the two explosions may have been the first of many more to come. In an effort to escape the area quickly, Kara and I got on Hubway bikes that were parked nearby. We biked away from the smoke and the panic, desperate to find the runners we had been waiting to cheer on, our friend Jerel and my boyfriend Dave. We biked along the course and I seemed to have superhuman vision as we approached the sea of runners who had been stopped at Mass Ave. Among the masses, I quickly spotted Jerel and another friend I didn’t even know would be running as a bandit that day. I called out for them and told them there had been explosions. I continued to bike along the course frantically yelling for Dave until I spotted him as he approached the bottleneck of runners, all 25.7 miles into their journey at that point. As more runners accumulated, they questioned why the race was at a standstill. Although Kara and I were mostly clueless about what had happened, we were more informed than most, so we notified the runners that there had been explosions at the finish—our announcements met with anger, confusion, and tears.
For every story of tragedy and loss, there are thousands more stories of near misses, people who made last minute decisions that kept them out of harm’s way that day. On our way to Hereford, Kara and I had walked along the course on Boylston, pushing through the crowds near the finish line and both bombing sites. The walk along the crowded sidewalk was slow-going, though, so we made a decision to backtrack to get to an alley near the finish line, which allowed us to run along the back of the buildings to get to Hereford. We had been waiting less than 5 minutes when we heard the first explosion. By all accounts, I was extremely lucky that day, but that hasn’t made the healing easy. Although I have never run a marathon before, running has always been therapeutic to me and I can’t think of a better way to heal from the events of that day than to “run it out.” I am so honored to be running the 2014 Boston Marathon with the American Liver Foundation’s Run for Research team. I will run those 26.2 miles to support an amazing cause and also as a tribute to the awesome strength of the City of Boston and to honor those who lost life and limb that day. There is a superstition among Boston Marathon runners that, although you can train on the course, you should not run across the finish line on Boylston until race day. I, respectfully, do not abide by this superstition. I like to think that the finish line belongs to all of us who were forever changed that day—victims, survivors, first responders, spectators, Bostonians, the running community at large, and so many others. Something was taken from us on April 15, 2013 and I like to think that I take a little bit of it back every time I run across that finish line on a training run. I am counting the days until I, along with the other 35,999 runners and the City of Boston, get to proudly take back that finish line for real on April 21, 2014.
Read more stories from the archive here. 

From the Archive: Kendrin’s Story 

I was spectating at the corner of Hereford and Newbury with my friend Kara when I heard the first explosion. A stranger standing next to us nervously asked, “What was that?” I assumed the noise was related to the festivities of the day and responded, “Don’t know, it’s too late in the day for a flyover.” Just moments later, we heard the second explosion. This time we were silent. Within seconds we knew something was terribly wrong. Spectators were fleeing from Boylston and police officers were waving for us to clear the area. A feeling of terror set in. I feared the worst and worried that our city was under attack, that the two explosions may have been the first of many more to come. In an effort to escape the area quickly, Kara and I got on Hubway bikes that were parked nearby. We biked away from the smoke and the panic, desperate to find the runners we had been waiting to cheer on, our friend Jerel and my boyfriend Dave. We biked along the course and I seemed to have superhuman vision as we approached the sea of runners who had been stopped at Mass Ave. Among the masses, I quickly spotted Jerel and another friend I didn’t even know would be running as a bandit that day. I called out for them and told them there had been explosions. I continued to bike along the course frantically yelling for Dave until I spotted him as he approached the bottleneck of runners, all 25.7 miles into their journey at that point. As more runners accumulated, they questioned why the race was at a standstill. Although Kara and I were mostly clueless about what had happened, we were more informed than most, so we notified the runners that there had been explosions at the finish—our announcements met with anger, confusion, and tears.


For every story of tragedy and loss, there are thousands more stories of near misses, people who made last minute decisions that kept them out of harm’s way that day. On our way to Hereford, Kara and I had walked along the course on Boylston, pushing through the crowds near the finish line and both bombing sites. The walk along the crowded sidewalk was slow-going, though, so we made a decision to backtrack to get to an alley near the finish line, which allowed us to run along the back of the buildings to get to Hereford. We had been waiting less than 5 minutes when we heard the first explosion. By all accounts, I was extremely lucky that day, but that hasn’t made the healing easy. Although I have never run a marathon before, running has always been therapeutic to me and I can’t think of a better way to heal from the events of that day than to “run it out.” I am so honored to be running the 2014 Boston Marathon with the American Liver Foundation’s Run for Research team. I will run those 26.2 miles to support an amazing cause and also as a tribute to the awesome strength of the City of Boston and to honor those who lost life and limb that day. There is a superstition among Boston Marathon runners that, although you can train on the course, you should not run across the finish line on Boylston until race day. I, respectfully, do not abide by this superstition. I like to think that the finish line belongs to all of us who were forever changed that day—victims, survivors, first responders, spectators, Bostonians, the running community at large, and so many others. Something was taken from us on April 15, 2013 and I like to think that I take a little bit of it back every time I run across that finish line on a training run. I am counting the days until I, along with the other 35,999 runners and the City of Boston, get to proudly take back that finish line for real on April 21, 2014.

Read more stories from the archive here

cityofbostonarchives:

Photographs from the Boston Marathon from the Mayor John Collins collection (Collection 0244.001) and the Mayor Raymond Flynn collection (Collection 0246.001)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.  Please attribute to City of Boston Archives.

cityofbostonarchives:

One Boston Banner with signatures and notes, Boston Marathon Temporary Memorial collection, Collection 0247.004.

meenamaekay:

The finish line for the 118th Boston Marathon being installed this morning

meenamaekay:

The finish line for the 118th Boston Marathon being installed this morning

A Busy Week Ahead!

This week is quite an eventful one for Our Marathon. From this Wednesday, April 16th to Saturday, April 19th, the team will be at the Boston Public Library from 12-4pm to hear your stories from the Boston Marathon bombings last year and how they have affected you. Our event will be set up alongside the incredible Dear Boston exhibit put on by the Boston City Archives.

Also, some representatives from Our Marathon will be at the Newton Free Library April 17th from 3:00-5:30pm where you can share your story as well. We hope to see you there! 

Mark Hagopian, owner of the Charlesmark Hotel on Boylston Street, describes being just feet away from one of the blasts.

www.northeastern.edu/marathon

Dara Casparian, a physical therapist at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, describes a letter she received from one of the bombing survivors she worked with.

Read more about this interview at our website: www.northeastern.edu/marathon

Our Marathon: A Reflection from Joanne DeCaro Afornalli

Our second reflection is from own very own Joanne Decaro Afornalli. She is an undergrad here at Northeastern pursuing her Bachelors in English. She has a background in photography and education, some of her work having been published in The Huffington Post, BizBash, Entertainment Weekly, among others. Below is Joanne’s reflection on working with Our Marathon:

My name is Joanne DeCaro Afornalli. I am the community outreach lead on the Our Marathon project and I’m an undergrad English major at Northeastern. I joined the team last fall and have worked on various aspects of the project such as: event planning, promotion and design, oral history interviews, assistance in sponsor and affiliate recruitment, media digitization, and data collection and entry. I actually sat down last semester and wrote out my reflections from working with Our Marathon for one of my English classes. At the time I had just finished tagging our Boston Globe stories so that was the focus of my reflection. Currently I am in the process of wrapping up our photo contest and planning for the gallery opening. My reflections on the project might be a little different now but I still feel the insight I gained last semester could be of some use. Here it goes:

            The process of tagging and cleaning up the meta-data of stories submitted to the Boston Globe required that I sat down and read through all 289 stories that were submitted by the public in the wake of the bombing. Most are firsthand accounts from spectators, runners and witnesses, many of whom were on Boylston Street in the midst of the blasts. Going through these stories was absolutely heart wrenching to say the least. Stories that spoke of parents horrified as they were separated from their children in the confusion, the panic and dread of every family member near the finish line who was waiting for their runner, and the actual firsthand accounts of missing limbs on the street and the injured. I was reading these stories in a graduate student office that is shared with two to three co-workers. At times when I was on the verge of tears there was the light-hearted office banter all around me, so the experience was rather disconcerting. Sometimes I just needed to take a breather in the bathroom and calm my nerves before I could read more.

            Although reading through the first-hand accounts could be emotionally draining, the stories themselves are these brilliant little portals into the reality of that day. They capture the essence of the tragedy in a way no news report or TV special can come close to matching. The first person perspective of people who you can relate to, who have the fears, courage and doubts that you would imagine yourself to have in that situation – that is a compelling and engaging connection to that day. Not everyone in these stories was a hero, although some clearly were. Most grabbed their child or spouse and ran whichever direction made the most sense in the moment. There was no good decision; no one knew where the next bomb would explode or how many there would be. In general, people didn’t so much fear for themselves as for their loved ones with them or running. That, along with some of the remarkable tales of aid and selflessness was inspiring.

            I was living in Los Angeles at the time of the marathon bombing. I saw it on the news at my boyfriend’s parent’s house. Of course, everyone was shocked by the coverage and felt compassion for the victims but it was too far-removed from life in California to have a strong impact on our consciousness. It was in the news for about a week and then disappeared, replaced by other stories of tragedies around the globe. It sounds callous but out of everything in the news at that time – the daily death tolls in Syria, the new bombings in Afghanistan and Iraq – it seemed it some ways like a minor tragedy on the global stage. Immersing myself in the horror of that day was a needed reminder that violence, no matter the size and shape of it, deserves to be addressed and examined.  Victims should not be overlooked because of the rapid-fire pace of modern news media.  Within those many stories are tales that address the core of humanity in ways novelists struggle to construct.  For those that were in the crowd that day in April, it was that singular moment to see how you would react in the face of unthinkable fear and terror. Surprisingly or not surprisingly, many people recounted witnessing or participating in lifting the fallen, grabbing children, aiding the injured and other feats of altruism in a moment one might expect the worse kind of stampeding selfishness from people. Many stories ended with a process of people trying to make sense of what they witnessed, whether it was a numbed horror or the inspirited declaration of “Boston Strong.” The confusion, guilt and long dull pain that trailed people home from the marathon is something I had never really stopped to contemplate before.

            While collecting stories from people, our team keeps emphasizing that no story is too small– every account adds to the greater understanding of that day. Going through the Boston Globe stories that couldn’t have been truer. Relating to the intimate story of a young mother who ran under the belchers with her daughter after the first bombing and then reading another story and then another like it – stories you don’t hear on the news – all of it drove home the reality of that tragedy. The fear, pain and courage captured in the first-person tales all became real to me in a way the impersonal nature of media reportage cannot achieve. One of my favorite literary quotes is “the universe is made of stories, not of atoms” by Muriel Rukeyser. In similar line of thought, I think the most direct way to connect to a tragedy is through stories and not facts and figures. Without working on this project and submersing myself in these stories, the Boston marathon bombing probably would have just remained a distant fact or figure. 

Passing Through Lowell, MA?

Come share your story with Our Marathon at the Pollard Memorial Library in Lowell! We’ll be there from 4:30-8:30pm tonight. The team is looking forward to a great turnout… we hope to see you there!

Former Navy medic Alicia Shambo, a marathon volunteer and mother of three, recalls thinking of her own two daughters when deciding not to leave the side of bombing survivor Victoria McGrath.