Runners reflect on aftermath of Boston Marathon bomings


by Tom Kirvan
Legal News

It’s been approximately two weeks since the finish of the Boston Marathon became news for all the wrong reasons, but the aftershocks continue to be felt by three members of the Michigan legal community who all completed the 26.2-mile race within minutes of the bombings that killed three spectators and injured more than 180 others.

Attorney Marcy Ford, CPA Scott Goldstein, and Terry Carella, director of communications for Cooley Law School, were among the finishers of the annual Patriots’ Day race that tragically was turned into a war scene near the 4-hour mark of the event that attracted more than 24,000 runners.

“It’s hard to put into words how scary an experience it was for all of us,” said Ford, executive vice president of Trott & Trott in Farmington Hills. “One moment there was a feeling of elation in having finished, and the next there was a sense of panic after hearing the back-to-back explosions. There also was a real level of uncertainty about whether there were more explosions to come. Nobody knew what could be coming next.”

Ford, a resident of Huntington Woods, broke the 4-hour barrier, finishing the grueling race in 3:58.17, a 9:06 per mile pace that earned her a coveted qualifying spot in next year’s marathon. But there was little time to celebrate the accomplishment, she indicated.

“I had just had my photo taken after finishing and was probably no more than 200 yards from the finish line when the first explosion occurred,” Ford said. “As many people have said, it sounded like a cannon went off, but when we saw all the smoke that was billowing up, it was obvious something else had happened. And then within seconds, there was a second explosion, which really set off alarm among all those in the finish area.”

Terry Carella, a 3:53.08 finisher, was among those caught in the ensuing chaos.

“I was so pleased to have finished in the time that I did because it had been such a hard marathon,” said Carella, who has competed at Boston multiple times over the past decade. “As anyone who has run Boston knows, the course can really take its toll because of the hills, but I was so elated to have broken four hours again and to have earned a qualifying time for next year.”

A Lansing area resident, Carella was so delighted with her effort that she somehow missed the opportunity to pick up her finishing medal.

“I had gone through the finish chute, gotten the blanket they give each finisher, grabbed some food, and made it to the race buses when I asked someone about the medals,” Carella related. “When I found out they were given out back at the finish line, I decided to make the trek back there, even though I could barely walk at that point. My legs were really hurting, but there was no way I was going to leave Boston without that medal.”

It nearly proved to be a fatal decision, she admitted.

“I had to go back several blocks, making my way against all the finish traffic,” Carella said. “As I got near the finish area, there was an enormous blast and a tremendous amount of smoke. I immediately said to myself, ‘This is not good.’ A few seconds later, the second blast went off. By that point, people were moving as fast as they could to get away from the area. It was panicky at that stage. I was cold and I was shivering, but I knew that I had to get out of that area as quickly as possible. We all wondered whether we had heard the last of the explosions.”

For Scott Goldstein, the feeling was similar even if he was somewhat more removed from the finish line madness.

President of NDeX, one of the nation’s largest providers of mortgage default processing services, based in Farmington Hills, Goldstein had completed the marathon in 3:24.28, a 7:48 per mile pace over the course from suburban Hopkinton to downtown Boston. He was in a nearby restaurant, a short walk from the finish line, when the first bomb exploded.

“We didn’t hear or feel the explosion, but it didn’t take long before word of what happened reached us,” Goldstein said. “Within minutes, everything was in a lockdown mode. There was a police presence everywhere, and I felt as if I was in a Jason Bourne movie. There was a triage area set up, where the injured including people with missing limbs were being treated before they were taken to the hospital. It was all very surreal. We could hardly comprehend what was going on.”

A native of Connecticut, Goldstein said he quickly attempted to reassure his family back in Michigan – including his wife Laura and their two children, Megan and Brady – that he was safe and unharmed, but to no avail.

“They immediately shut down cell phone service, so it was not possible to make an outgoing call,” said Goldstein, who eventually resorted to his Facebook page to inform family and friends of his well-being.

Carella’s husband, Mike, a Lansing physician, was among the marathon spectators who quickly became separated from his loved one.

“Our routine is that Mike sees me at the halfway point, at the 25-mile mark, and then we hook up in the meeting area after the race,” Carella related. “Of course, everything after the race became very problematic with the lockdown. Movement was really restricted until the police could get a handle on all that was happening.
Fortunately, Mike and I finally hooked up, and before long we got word that all of our running friends from the Lansing area were all right. It was a huge relief because you start thinking about the worst at a time like that.”

For Ford, the worries were equally intense, as she attempted to make contact with her husband, Richard, and their three daughters, Claire, Kathryn, and Amelia, all of whom accompanied her to Boston for the race.

“I saw them, somewhat miraculously, near the 26-mile mark, which it turned out was some 100 yards from the site of the second explosion,” Ford said. “Once they saw me pass by, they immediately set out for the finish line and the meeting area nearby.”

Following the explosions, post-race traffic was diverted around the finish line, forcing Ford and hundreds of other runners to take a more circuitous route to the meeting area. By the time Ford made her way there, her family had departed.

“I waited for a while, but you could tell that everyone there was getting more and more nervous and scared,” Ford said. “All the sirens, the police helicopters, and the general uncertainty about what was going on made it very hard on everyone.”

A few minutes later, after deciding to set out on a mission to find them, Ford spotted a welcome sight, a shock of red hair.

“I have a redhead girl and when I saw that hair, I knew it was them,” Ford said with a sense of relief. “There were a lot of hugs and tears in those next few moments. It was a frightening experience for all of us, but my husband and I were particularly concerned about how our three girls, all relatively young, would handle this.”

The couple’s first thought was to catch an afternoon flight back to Detroit, hoping to leave the chaos of Boston behind. That plan, of course, was derailed by the lockdown in the downtown area, forcing Ford and her family to seek refuge in their hotel room, where she gazed out the window only to see police snipers perched on the rooftops of nearby buildings.

“We closed the curtains, kept the TV off, and tried to comfort our girls and settle ourselves,” Ford said. “It was a lot to process.”

The Boston tragedy has given Carella pause, as well.

“As a runner, as part of a group of athletes dedicated to a lifestyle of health and fitness, this just makes me dig in my heels even more,” she said. “I’m not about to let terrorists change the way we go about our lives, especially in an event as great as the Boston Marathon.”

Goldstein was just as reflective, expressing mixed emotions.

“I do indeed feel fortunate to be fine, to not have been injured in the bombings,” Goldstein said. “On the other hand, I feel a deep sense of sadness over those who were killed and injured, also knowing that such a great experience as the Boston Marathon will never be the same again.”