Jenny Randolph was standing in the recovery area talking with her father on the phone about her personal success in the Boston Marathon Monday, April 15, when she heard a loud noise and felt the pavement shake.
Runners were drinking Gatorade and water and chowing down on items like bananas and nutrition bars. Randolph located former LU runner Caitlin Anderson in the crowd. They were joined by Jenny’s sister, Mary.
It was a typical post-marathon scene, but the rest of the day would be anything but typical. The calm of the aftermath of the race was shockingly shattered.
“I heard and felt a massive explosion,” Randolph said. “I stopped my conversation with my father. I think we were just a couple of blocks away.
“We were definitely close enough to feel it. Everyone just stopped what they were doing. We didn’t see anything. We didn’t see any smoke. There were a lot of buildings in the way.”
Anderson knew that something unusual had occurred. One of her first thoughts was that a bomb might have detonated.
“My gut reaction was it was a bomb,” Anderson said. “I also thought the finish line might have collapsed, vehicles may have collided or subway trains had crashed. We could feel the shaking and vibrating through the sidewalk.”
Randolph resumed her conversation with her father and then she heard the second explosion.
“Soon, after that, there were all sorts of sirens and emergency crews were rushing to the scene,” Randolph said. “We knew then that something bad had happened.
“Caitlin, my sister and I just started to walk away. We didn’t know exactly where we were trying to go.”
There was chaos all around.
A few minutes after the blasts a Boston police officer informed Randolph and Anderson that what they heard and felt was the result of bombs going off.
“We had a feeling that it was bad,” Randolph said. “We didn’t know that anyone had been hurt or killed until later on.
“It was chaotic. It was really difficult to get calls and texts out.”
Randolph, an assistant track and cross country coach for Lipscomb, and Anderson, crossed the finish line approximately 35 minutes before two bombs exploded at the finish line of the historic race.
Randolph and Anderson had stayed with a friend at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). All public transportation was shut down so they had to walk about an hour after completing the 26-mile race.
“All the public transportation was shut down,” Randolph said. “We had to walk over an hour to MIT.”
The bombs went off at the 4:09 mark on the race clock. At least three are dead and approximately a hundred are injured. As Randolph and Anderson left in a taxi for the airport they admitted they were having difficulties dealing with the events of the day.
“I think it is going to take some time to process everything that happened, especially knowing that people were killed and dozens were injured and that I was so close to it,” Randolph said. “It does affect you.
“I’m saddened by how broken the world we live in is. It is just so sad. But I know my hope is in Christ. I will pray for everyone involved. I pray that through this God might be able to reveal Himself in a way that people can’t ignore.”
Randolph finished the race with a time of 3:33.50, but she ran faster at the end than the beginning. Anderson crossed in a time of 3:32.30.
“We were together until mile 22,” Randolph said. “Caitlin was feeling good and was able to finish the last four miles a little faster than me.”
Both are qualified to compete again next year.
“I am excited about qualifying for next year,” Randolph said. “I will have to think on it a little bit, but going back next year is not out of the question by any means.”
If Randolph decides to return Anderson will be there as well.
“It is a horrible situation,” Anderson said. “It puts everything into perspective.
“It makes us not even want to think about the race right now. We are thinking about those who have lost people and those who are still in danger due to their injuries.”