One year after the bombing at the Boston Marathon, two local runners headed back to Bean Town to run again.
Last year the country was shocked when two bombs exploded April 16, 2013 near the finish line of the marathon, killing three and injuring close to 265 others.
This year, runners and spectators from around the globe returned to the marathon undeterred.
Prospect resident Tim Beach and Dino Verrelli of Beacon Falls were among the runners who took to the streets of Boston to run the Boston Marathon on April 14.
“It was very much a celebration after the defeat evil,” Beach said of this year’s marathon.
Beach finished the race 38 minutes ahead of the bombings last year.
“Last time, when I finished, it was my first Boston Marathon. I was filled with joy. I was ecstatic,” Beach said. “Then, within the hour, hearing about the bombs and hearing everything had gone so bad, it was a terrible feeling.”
Beach said some of the joy was brought back after he received so many messages from friends and family checking to see if he was safe and realizing that so many people cared for him.
Verrelli was at the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Hereford Street, which is less than a mile from the finish line, last year when the bombs exploded.
Verrelli recalled that when the bombs went off last year the race director and security acted quickly, stopping runners from going any further and preventing more confusion at the finish line.
Verrelli said he didn’t want the race this year to be too emotional for him. So, the day before the marathon he started at the finish line and ran the last leg of the race that he wasn’t able to complete the year before.
“Sunday, I stopped and said a quick prayer at where I had been stopped. Then I stopped at where the bombs had occurred and had a moment. Race day I didn’t think I’d get emotional, but getting to that location I’d been stopped was really emotional,” Verrelli said.
Verrelli said crossing the finish line this year was also a pretty emotional experience.
“Crossing that finish line, because I didn’t get to do it last because of what was taken from us by those cowards or whatever you want to call them … it was pretty emotional,” Verrelli said.
Verrelli said he felt nervous the day of the race and, ultimately, didn’t run his best race.
“I didn’t have a great morning, I was very nervous. For me personally I think it was not being able to cross the finish line last year, being very close to when everything went down, and being stopped at the race,” Verrelli said.
Verrelli said his wife and kids were waiting for him at the finish line this year, which made him even more anxious.
“But you always have that in the back of your mind. I think that’s just natural now with every big race. I had that same feeling with [the New York Marathon]. You just didn’t know, but once you put one foot in front of the other it kind of works itself out,” Verrelli said.
However, Verrelli felt safe during the race and while in the villages for athletes.
“I felt secure, but we are in a world where there are a lot of crazy people and people do some really crazy and stupid things, so a full military brigade sometimes doesn’t necessarily stop crazy people,” Verrelli said.
Having a full military brigade was not an exaggeration, according to Verrelli.
“I think we take our civil liberties for granted here in the United States, but on Marathon Monday there were SWAT tanks, there were guys with machine guns, police, snipers,” Verrelli said. “It’s very rural, so there are not a lot of places to hide for snipers and tanks, so you see a lot of it.”
Members of the New York Police Department, Vermont State Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives provided security along the race, Verrelli said.
“The other aspect of it though, which was really cool for me, was just the solidarity. They weren’t standing there with guns, they were like, ‘Good luck guys.’ There was a lot of comradery, which was really inspiring,” Verrelli said.
For Beach it was his faith that helped him from being nervous about this year’s marathon.
“God protected me last year. God will protect me again,” Beach said.
Seeing how fast the police acted to any suspicious activity was also a comfort to Beach.
“One lady, she took her large hand bag off her shoulder and put it down, and police immediately went to get it. They asked her to keep it on her shoulder. It was very secure,” Beach said.
Beach’s main concern on Marathon Monday was crossing the finish line in under three hours and 30 minutes, which he accomplished.
Verrelli is the founder of the nonprofit organization Project Purple, which supports people with pancreatic cancer. He was running to help raise money for the organization.
The four people who were officially running for Project Purple managed to raise $43,000, Verrelli said.
“It was a pretty amazing experience. It was something I guess 20 years from now I will look back and say, ‘Wow, I was part of something really grand and amazing that brought the city back but also the country back.’ I think what happened in Boston wasn’t just a Boston or Massachusetts thing, that was something the whole nation and the whole running community was affected by,” Verrelli said.