Boston Marathon bombings

Hong Kong runner tells of dark day at Boston finishing line

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 April, 2013, 2:41pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

I flew to Boston from Hong Kong on Saturday to combine a business trip with competing in the Boston Marathon.

It was a great day – perfect weather and unbelievable crowds supporting the runners.

Having started in the third wave of runners, I finished at 2.41pm, crossed the finish line then took my time picking up some water and resting. Before I had a chance to move along, there was a large explosion no more than 200 metres from where I was standing. My first thought was that it might be fireworks or a cannon, but it was instantly clear from the amount of debris in the air that it was either a terrible accident or a bomb. Seconds later, another explosion a few hundred metres farther away convinced me that it was a bomb.

There was panic in the street as runners who had crossed the finish line ran down the road towards me. Oddly, calm quickly prevailed as the grim scene wasn’t fully understood. The medals continued to be handed out although the runners and crowds were moving along faster to clear the area.

Within minutes, however, the enormity of the situation became more evident. Runners came through the ranks crying, and tensions began to rise.

Marshals and runners struggled to move the crowd barriers to let police and fire vehicles through.

Only one or two streets away, it took a while for news to spread.

Mobile phones quickly started to fail – it’s not clear if it was a network overload or if the networks were shut down. Mine failed initially but started working just a few streets away.

The elite runners had long passed the finish line; at this stage of the race it was all about charity and family runners. The finish line was packed with families cheering on their loved ones. It’s tragic that one of the three reported fatalities is an eight-year-old child.

You’ll have seen the television reports. A tough day for the US, a devastating day for the city of Boston and a dark day for sport.

Simeon Jupp is a resident of Hong Lok Yuen, Hong Kong