Florida runner says Boston scene was chaos


Published: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 9:02 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 9:02 a.m.

MIAMI — They had just crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Lauren Fuchs was waiting to get some water. Thomas Fabian started to think about running another race in London this weekend.

Moments later, everything changed.

One explosion filled the air, followed by another seconds later. The bombs that went off near the finish line on Monday killed at least three people and left more than 140 injured, some critically. And for Fuchs and Fabian, who were among nearly 600 Florida residents entered in the race — many of whom were unable to finish — the scene would be one to never forget.

"I'm feeling very lucky right now," said Fuchs, a runner from Coral Springs, Fla., who escaped without injury.

Still, she knows that she will never look at another marathon the same way ever again.

Fuchs said she's the type of person who typically worries about what-if, worst-case scenarios. But those plans never led to her even consider the possibility that something like this would happen, least of all at a race.

"That thought has never, never crossed my mind," Fuchs said. "You always feel like you're in a safe environment, that happy environment with runners or with people who are there to enjoy watching the runners."

The Fabian family actually had a plan for what to do if something like the scene that played out in Boston on Monday ever happened.

Thomas and Carol Fabian have competed in about 100 races over the last five years, according to their son, Thomas Fabian II of Port Charlotte, Fla. His father finished shortly before the explosions, and his mother was still several miles back on the course.

His parents had a difficult time getting reconnected after the race, since Carol Fabian was among the runners who wound up together at a cafeteria and a chapel on the Boston College campus. But through text messaging and conference-calling, everyone was able to stay in touch and confirm that they were safe.

"We pretty much always plan for the worst," the younger Fabian said in a telephone interview. "We have ways of tracking each other and ways to get through to each other. Some of the marathons, small marathons, it's not such a big concern. But in the bigger cities, so many runners and so many spectators, it always crosses your mind that they can be a prime target."

His parents were scheduled to fly from Boston quickly to compete in this coming weekend's London Marathon.

"I'm not sure if they're going to go now," Fabian II said.

Fuchs said she did not see, hear or smell anything that would have made her think something so severe was about to happen when she crossed the finish line. The commotion was behind her, as she made her way through the area where runners could get water, warming blankets and the medals awarded to those who finish.

"I didn't notice anything until the sound of that explosion," Fuchs said. "You turn around to see and all it was was a big cloud of smoke. Everyone looked around and said 'What was that?' Some people thought it was planned, that it was just something that was supposed to happen. And I was like, that can't be it. So I kept moving, got my medal and then the other bomb went off. And that's when a lot of people started crying."

Fuchs finished four minutes too late to automatically be invited back for next year's Boston Marathon, though she said if she hits the necessary time to qualify at another race in the coming months, she would not hesitate to return.

"I love the town and I love the event," Fuchs said. "I know what happened here will put a damper on it, but people need to keep moving forward. People can't be held back by this."

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