“I’m still in shock,” Olbrias said from his home. “I’m at the 30K, everything’s normal, I’m sitting there, watching runners go by.
“[When he heard] my first thought was, ‘Oh my God, did I just lose a friend?’ My second was I was timing the 5K the day before. I was right where that explosion was.”
Olbrias, who is the co-owner of The Last Mile timing company, was told to move the timing mat onto the grass by the side of the road and divert runners off the street and tell them the race was over.
“I called in to my people and everybody was OK and they told me, ‘Don’t shut it down. We want you to track as many people as possible,’ ” Olbrias said. “So they’re coming and I had to tell them, ‘We need you to go across [the mat] but the race is over.’
“One woman from Canada broke into tears. My daughter is at the finish line, she said.”
Her daughter was OK. Olbrias ended up driving three runners who were stranded to one of the train stations.
“I’m angry,” he said. “I’m sad. Why would someone even do this? I love the Boston Marathon. I’ve run it twice, timed it three times. It means something to me, this race. It’s something you feel safe with. To have this tragic event happen, it’s horrible. At a running race? Could you imagine not being safe at a road race?"
Shannon McHale of Simsbury, an Olympic marathon trials qualifier last year, had just completed the marathon with her husband David and was back at the Westin when she heard the explosions.
“We felt the hotel shake,” McHale said via a Facebook message Monday afternoon. “We’re in lockdown. It’s chaos outside our window. So scary.”
The question is where do we go from here? I saw police with bomb-sniffing dogs earlier that morning right near the finish line. There is a certain amount of security checking that can be done. But it's not like a basketball arena. How do you secure an entire 26.2-mile marathon course with all those people for 6, 8, 10 hours? Do you have to secure the whole course or just the start/finish areas?
"That would be a great question to ask people who are in the security business," Hartford Marathon director Beth Shluger said. "Probably nobody is after Mile 6 or 8 or 14 of the marathon, you don't have the mass of people there. The mass of people is at the finish line or starting line. Those are more contained."
So do you cordon off the entire section of Boylston Street where the marathon finishes and do security checks?
And Shluger brought up a good point...what's the London Marathon going to do this weekend? It's a good bet security will be very amped up there.