By Donna Thornton
Hilary Jarecki was minutes past the finish line of the Boston Marathon, she and her husband and son were steps – perhaps a block – down the street when they heard a blast. They, like the people around them were bewildered, wondering what had happened. Jarecki said 16-year-old son Connor thought it might have been cannons. April 15 is Patriot’s Day in Boston and there’d been fake cannons earlier.
When the second blast came, Jarecki said her husband Blaise knew something was wrong and started pushing them along, saying “we’ve got to get out of here.”
The Jareckis were in Boston so that Hilary could compete in her first Boston Marathon, a race that was rocked by two explosions that killed three people and injured more than 140.
The Boston Marathon “is the most famous foot race in the world,” Jarecki said, and it is something Boston is known for.
“And now it will never be the same,” she said.
Jarecki said the race is a demanding one and proved tough for her. Around mile 24, she was struggling.
“Heartbreak Hill broke my heart,” Jarecki said. She said friends had given her some Bible verses. “I pinned them to my number.” She said she was able to continue and pick up her pace.
Jarecki believes that second effort may have spared them all.
“It was divine intervention,” she said. Had she taken the rest of the race at a slower pace, she might well have been nearer the blast site. Her husband and son had been waiting for her at the finish line, where the explosion occurred, and might been there still had she not crossed the line and moved on down the street.
Initially, people just seemed bewildered, Jarecki said, until they started hearing the approaching sirens.
Moments after the explosions, Jarecki said Connor called a relative asking if they’d heard anything. At that point, she had not.
Interviewed by phone on the evening following the blast, Jarecki said they were waiting, hoping they would be able to leave Boston April 16.
“We’re hearing people say you should stay in your hotel,” Jarecki said. The “green line” train that runs the marathon route was not running, she said; she couldn’t be sure if others were. She had heard that Logan Airport was shut down as well.
For Monday evening, Jarecki said they were wondering if restaurants would be open. Blaise and Connor had not eaten for 12 hours at the time Jarecki was interviewed, and were anxious to find food.
Jarecki said the night before they ate at a California Pizza Kitchen near their hotel and the route of the race. She said an employee told them the race is “their Christmas,” in terms of its financial impact on the area. Jarecki said it’s like a holiday atmosphere in Boston, with hundreds of people lining the race route, including many children.
Oddly enough, Jarecki said she and her husband were in London in 2005 when underground trains and a bus were bombed there.
“We’ve been through this before – all the calls,” she said, to assure family and friends they were safe. “No one is ever going to travel with us.”