EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 29, 2013

My story: A memorable day for all the wrong reasons

By Meghan O'Donnell
Special to The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Editor’s note: North Andover resident Meghan O’Donnell ran the 117th Boston Marathon with her friend, Tara Crow, of Methuen, raising money for Cystic Fibrosis. O’Donnell sent us her personal account from the Boston Marathon, including the pain and disappointment that went with it.

My friend, Tara Crow, and I were running the marathon for the Mass General Cystic Fibrosis Clinic.

As we approached the “1 mile to go” sign, I saw my boyfriend in the crowd (my whole family was set to meet us near the finish line, at the intersection of Hereford and Boylston Streets, as we have done in years past). My boyfriend called us over to the side to tell us there was an explosion at the finish line, and that we were going to be re-routed and finish somewhere else.

Tara and I were in the zone, so we just kept running and I told him we would meet him straight ahead.

Only a few seconds later, my parents started screaming my name from the crowd as they ran from the Kenmore Square T stop. They were on the T heading to the finish line when the T stopped and forced everyone to evacuate.

My mother started screaming that there was a bomb and we had to stop. I told her that we knew there was an explosion, and were told to finish straight ahead.

Tara and I ran for about another .25 miles when the police came out of nowhere and stopped the race. They held up their hands and said the race was over. We were at mile 25.5.

We had worked so hard, and suddenly it just stopped. I grabbed Tara’s hand and we ran over the closest thing we could find to our own Finish Line, a stop line.

That is where the chaos really started. Within seconds all the streets were being closed, cops were everywhere. My family was stuck in Kenmore Square as the police were herding people to the other side of the street.

Tara was trying to get in touch with her family, a large group of them were set to meet us at the finish line. The phones were not working, nothing was going through, and everyone was crying. No one knew what was happening or how bad it was.

Finally we got a hold of Tara’s husband and found out that they were OK. We started walking the opposite was on the course back towards Fenway Park. We were both so tired, and now cold because we didn’t get the silver blankets they gave to finishers to keep us warm.

We were at the bridge by Fenway Park when I finally got in touch with my parents and realized they were in the opposite direction of Tara’s. So we parted ways to go find our families. Tara was able to get back with her family and head to her brother’s apartment in Southie.

As my family tried to get out of the hectic scene, we walked towards Boston University, down a side street, thinking it was the best option to get a cab. All of the sudden more police arrived and told us to get off the streets.

Everyone started panicking all over again. We didn’t know is this was another bomb, a precaution, or anything. We managed to get a cab and somehow get back to our hotel at MGH.

As soon as I thought we could relax, our hotel was put on lockdown, and there was a bomb squad investigating a threat at MGH.

It seemed like it was never ending. By 9 p.m. we were able to get our car and head home to North Andover.

It was a memorable day, unfortunately, for all the wrong reasons.

Editor's note: North Andover resident Meghan O'Donnell ran the 117th Boston Marathon with her friend, Tara Crow, of Methuen, raising money for Cystic Fibrosis. O'Donnell sent us her personal account from the Boston Marathon, including the pain and disappointment that went with it. Send us your marathon story Over the next few weeks we will be running human interest stories from runners and spectators from the aftermath of the explosions at the 2013 Boston Marathon last Monday. If you have a story, please send it to us at sports@eagletribune.com and bburt@eagletribune.com. Please attach a picture and contact information.