Adrian Budhu had just turned onto Boylston Street from Hereford Street to run the final stretch of the Boston Marathon on Monday when the first of two bombs placed along the route exploded.
He and other runners had begun to slow down as the second device detonated two blocks west of initial blast near the Prudential Center a few seconds later.
Budhu, who was running to raise money for the Theater Offensive, a Boston-based group that uses art to highlight the lives of LGBT people, said volunteers, first responders and even his fellow runners told them to run backwards away from the finish line after the explosions.
He ran west on Boylston Street and eventually to his home in the nearby South End.
“At that time the spectators are cheering everyone because you can see the finish line, you can see the big clock,” Budhu told the Washington Blade on Tuesday as he recalled the scene on Boylston Street. “Everything you’ve put in this race is about to happen [and then] everyone just stopped. It was just surreal.”
The two explosions killed three people and wounded at least 170 others near the finish line in front of the Boston Public Library. Local, state and federal authorities continue to investigate who placed the devices the Associated Press reported were made from pressure cookers that contained nails, ball bearings and metal shards along Boylston Street.
The Dallas Voice reported on Tuesday that Javier Pagan, the Boston Police Department’s LGBT liaison, was among the first who responded to the scene after the bombs exploded.
Former GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios was running about a third of a mile away from the finish line at the intersection of Massachusetts and Commonwealth Avenues when the two explosions took place. His son Javier who was waiting for him at the finish line near Copley Square was uninjured.
“He was, as many people were, very frightened,” Barrios, who is the chief executive of the American Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts, told the Blade. “We’ve talked a lot about this.”
Kilian Melloy, who is a massage therapist who volunteers with the Boston Athletic Association, which organizes the marathon, was in the basement of the John Hancock Building near Copley Square massaging a runner who had just finished the race when the bombs exploded. He said he had no idea of what had just happened on nearby Boylston Street until a volunteer came into the room and told everyone to evacuate the building and walk away from the finish line.
He told the Blade it took him an hour and a half to walk with his massage table from Copley Square to a subway station in Kendall Square in Cambridge over the Longfellow Bridge that spans the Charles River. Melloy further detailed his experience in a blog post to the EDGE Media Network.
“I’m really angry and I’m also really sad,” he told the Blade. “I’m in the healing profession and to think about how people got hurt — cruelly hurt — that’s very upsetting.”
Members of gay D.C. running group complete race
Five members of the D.C. Front Runners also ran in this year’s race.
Lennie Carter, who had previously run 10 Boston Marathons, crossed the finish line about 25 minutes before the bombs exploded. He told the Blade earlier on Tuesday before he boarded his flight back to D.C. that he was about to return to Boylston Street to meet his partner and watch the rest of the runners finish when he decided to return to their hotel near Tufts Medical Center.
“We just got to the room and everybody started calling us to make sure we were okay,” Carter said. “We turned on the TV and we had just been there I would say within 10 minutes of when everything went off.”
D.C. resident Brian Beary, who ran the marathon for the first time, also first heard about the bombings after he returned to his hotel. His parents who had traveled from Ireland to watch the race had been standing for about an hour at the same location along Boylston Street where the second bomb exploded.
They left the area after Beary crossed the finish line.
“Basically if I had run an hour slower, they would have been right there,” he told the Blade after he returned to D.C. “They were right at the spot where the explosion was.”
’So many kids’ along the marathon route
Beary noted the contrasts he saw during the annual event that draws hundreds of thousands of spectators along its 26.2 mile route from Hopkinton to Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood on the third Monday in April — Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts.
He said he had goose bumps as he ran through the so-called Scream Tunnel at Wellesley College, up Heartbreak Hill in nearby Newton and on other parts of the course. Beary also noted runners observed a moment of silence for the victims of last December’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., before the race began.
“It was just one of the most beautiful marathons I’ve ever run — if not the most, until obviously the horrible stuff that came later,” Beary said.
Budhu further noted the “so many kids” he saw along the marathon’s route to watch the race. These included Martin Richard, an 8-year-old boy from Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood who died during the first bombing as he and his family stood watching the runners cross the finish line.
“It’s so not necessary,” Budhu said. “It’s so appalling. It’s so horrific. I just cannot believe it happened.”