Bert Robillard counts himself as lucky and thankful he was able to complete Monday’s Boston Marathon when he did – several minutes before two explosions near the finish line.
The Sidney man was running his fourth Boston Marathon, having last done so in 2003 at age 50.
Seven to nine minutes after he finished, Robillard said he was among a large group of runners and volunteers a few blocks away from the finish line, picking up a participation medal and meeting up with his wife, Helen Watt and fellow runner Lori Stenson, and her partner Don Costello. That’s when the bombs went off.
“I didn’t hear the explosions,” Robillard said. “No one there did, as there was a lot of noise at the time.”
Having met up with his wife and Castello, they went around the corner to their hotel so he could rest. Robillard said they check the marathon’s interactive website to see where Lori was, and noted her icon was stationary.
That’s when they turned on the TV and saw the chaos unfolding at the finish line. “That’s when Don and Helen had to go and find Lori.”
Robillard said he stayed in the hotel to recover from the run. Lori, he said, was directed away from the finish line as the second bomb went off and eventually made her way to where the friends were to meet after the race.
Robillard said the incident left him in shock and he finds himself even now wondering what might have happened if he had paused to rest during his marathon. He said he’s glad to have finished when he did.
“I was damn lucky to be where I was.”
Robillard said the incident left him in shock and he finds himself wondering what might have happened if he had paused to rest during his run. “I was damn lucky to be where I was.”
The next morning, Robillard said the streets around the finish line were deserted and quiet, except for the presence of police, military and helicopters overhead. A photo he took of a nearby restaurant showed half-eaten meals that were left behind when the place was quickly evacuated.
“It was eerie the next morning,” he said.
The group had no problems boarding their flight home the day after the explosions. Robillard said the airport was full of extra security, but their plane left on time.
He said he’s glad to be home, but still wondering about what might have happened. Since he qualified for the next Boston Marathon in his 60-65 age group, Robillard, 60, said he’s asking himself whether he’ll return for his fifth race next year.
This photo from Sidney’s Bert Robillard shows a Boston SWAT team guarding an empty street near where two bombs exploded during the Boston Marathon Monday.
This photo from Sidney’s Bert Robillard shows half-eaten meals in a Boston restaurant after it had been evacuated after two bombs went off near the Boston Marathon finish line.