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Marquette marathon runners recall Boston blasts

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Gary Krenz. Photo courtesy of Marquette University

Gary Krenz. Photo courtesy of Marquette University

While investigators sift through photos and videos to identify a suspect in Monday’s Boston Marathon bombing, members of the Marquette community continue to process and reflect on the events that transpired.

Gary Krenz, professor and chair of the department of mathematics, statistics and computer science, ran the marathon Monday and said he hopes justice will be served in a responsible manner.

“Hopefully people won’t be in a rush to judge, convict. (I hope) that they actually look at it,” Krenz said. “Three people are dead, more than 170 injured, some with limbs blown off, absolutely devastating. Just as devastating is a rush to judgment, so I’m hopeful that there will be a careful investigation, that justice will prevail but they are not rushed to assign blame.”

Monday was Krenz’s ninth time competing in Boston. He said he knew from the start that this race would be different. As he prepared to embark on the 26.2-mile trek, an elderly woman came up to him and asked if she could pray for him before the race.

“May I pray for your safety?” the woman asked. “That you have a safe run and that you’re not injured.”

Krenz accepted the prayer and said no one had ever asked to pray for him before the race.

While he usually finishes a marathon in two hours and 16 minutes, Krenz said cramping issues slowed him down. As he walked to the finish line, a man said, ‘Why don’t you run it in?’ Krenz decided to run in the final leg of the race and crossed the finish line after five hours on the course.

“I finish and I’m looking at the clock … so I’m crossing and you’re going through the shoot and I haven’t even gotten to the heat shield blanket when boom,” Krenz said. “If that guy hadn’t said anything, I don’t know if I would have finished, I don’t know if I would be beside the bombs.”

Krenz said the runners kept going through the finish, very quietly.

“You’re looking at it, going, that’s not an accident,” Krenz said. “Then the second bomb went off and I was lucky that I couldn’t see the sidewalk there. I was really lucky that I didn’t see that sight.”

As he made traveled away from the site, first responders rushed toward the scene. Krenz called his wife who was watching the race and they made their way back to the hotel.

On Tuesday, Krenz and his wife returned to Milwaukee and left a Boston he did not recognize.

“When you went to leave the T (subway), they had so many national guardsman that you actually had to go between two to get to the subway. There is no chance that you could get to the subway without going past one or two guardsman or policemen. They really ratcheted up the presence I think just to call people down.”

For Tim McAuliff, a sophomore in the College of Education, nothing seemed wrong before the explosions.

After finishing his first Boston Marathon, McAuliff and his family went to a crowded restaurant for a post-race meal. He said people were walking in the streets on the beautiful sunny day.

“The first (explosion) is going to stay in my mind forever,” McAuliff said. “I was only two blocks away from the incident. I was mid-sentence when it went off, and it shook our restaurant. Someone’s glass fell over. And once we all heard it, we took a few seconds to look at each other –  everyone was dead silent.”

McAuliff said the second explosion went off shortly after. Panic then filled the streets, and people began to run in the opposite direction. McAuliff and his family decided to stay in the restaurant.

“I didn’t know what to do … The terror on some of these people’s faces will never leave my mind,” McAuliff said. “I stood up and looked out the window. I saw smoke rising above the buildings, and then I rushed over to a television in the bar portion of the restaurant trying to figure out what happened.”

McAuliff and Krenz said they were both touched by the outpouring of support they felt after the bombing.

“People were just trying to contact me in any way they could. I got a few texts from numbers I didn’t even know and people I’ve never even met. Marquette students are just amazing people, and the flow of messages coming in to see if I was okay is something I’ll cherish forever.”

Krenz said his Marquette family reached out Monday to make sure he was safe after the bombing. He received calls, emails and flowers from coworkers, students and alumni.

“It’s nice to know you’re loved,” Krenz said.

By Jacob Born and Sarah Hauer
jacob.born@marquette.edu and sarah.hauer@marquette.edu

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