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BOSTON — A local runner who took part in the Boston Marathon on Monday missed the bombing by 15 minutes.
Celina resident Bill Roy took to the streets of Boston to compete in the marathon — a major goal for those who run marathons. Roy crossed the finish line, found his family, went through the post race photo shoot and was retrieving his personal items when a few minutes later he heard a sound that shook the nation.
“We didn’t know what it was so we just stood there,” Roy told The Evening Leader. “I thought maybe it was fireworks for the celebration of Patriots Day or because the Red Sox won. Everyone just stood around and no one really knew what to do. Then we kind of realized something wasn’t right and it was a weird feeling.”
Shortly after the blast, ambulances, police and other first responders arrived on the scene. Race volunteers then told Roy and his family that there was an explosion and that they should leave the area.
“We knew something wasn’t right,” Roy said. “We got up and tried to figure out what to do. We tried to use our cell phones for the GPS but all the cell phones were turned off so we couldn’t use it.”
Roy said he saw volunteers with wheelchairs — normally reserved for those who need help after the race — rushing toward the finish line. These chairs could be seen throughout the day bringing victims to ambulances.
“They were taking the fencing and finish line down and the race wasn’t supposed to be over — it goes on for hours,” Roy said. “That’s when a volunteer told us there was an explosion and everyone was supposed to leave the area. We went down the road further and there was a cop there and he also was telling people to leave.”
Roy finished the race 15 minutes before the explosion hit the finish line. The fact that he was so close to the explosion is not lost on him.
“It’s huge,” Roy said. “We’ve talked about that about 100 times now ... It was just very eerie. No one knew what was going on and there were a lot of people trying to find their family members.”
Roy, his wife Jill and daughter Jessica Ahrns were going to spend the entire week in Boston. The family had tickets to a Celtics game, which was canceled.
“They ruined it for everyone,” Roy said. “This was my first Boston and I ran one marathon to qualify for it. All the people here, you want to take pictures, show off your medal and it was all taken away. It’s just terrible. We wanted to celebrate and they told everyone to go back to your hotels and not to go out in groups. All the runners, it’s their goal and what will happen next year, it’s not something you want to go to.”