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On Marathon Monday, three dead, over 100 injured in explosions 

Tufts community comes together during day of chaos

Published: Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 04:04

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Clarissa Sosin / The Tufts Daily

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Justin McCallum / The Tufts Daily

The Tufts community was rocked Monday when two explosive devices detonated near the finish line of the  Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring at least 140, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Three Tufts students sustained non-life-threatening injuries in the blast.

 Well over 100 members of the Tufts community ran in the marathon, according to Tufts Marathon Team (TMT) Coach Don Megerle, and many of their friends and family had congregated near the finish line, where the explosions occurred.

Tufts senior Maggie Selvin said she was watching the race a block from the finish line when the explosions went off.

“When we first heard the first blast, I guess no one was really sure what to think of it,” Selvin said. “Looking over towards the finish line, I saw this big cloud of gray smoke and I realized, ‘This isn’t just fireworks or something.’ Then I heard the second explosion go off and everybody started screaming ‘Run, run!’ and people started panicking and tripping over each other.”

The extent of the afternoon’s chaos was not immediately clear to many runners, according to Hailey Alm, who ran the last mile of the marathon with a friend on the Marathon Team. The two reached the finish line just five minutes before the bombs detonated.

"I assumed that something had fallen, some metal hitting the ground,” Alm, a senior, said. “I definitely did not go to thinking the worst, that there’s some kind of bomb that had gone off. The people in the crowd were like, ‘What’s going on, we need to get out of here!’ People were running to get away, or just kind of looking around.”

Elsewhere, runners who had yet to finish were being warned and diverted off the race course to prevent them from entering the blast area. Senior Aiai Ren was just half a mile away from the finish line when a volunteer forced runners onto a bridge over the race course.

“We were all really confused,” Ren said. “A lot of people started crying because they were so close to the end. Someone said an explosion had occurred. The first thought that ran through my mind was, ‘Maybe it was just an explosion from a generator or something not that serious.’”

As news filtered in from people running backwards along the course, runners began to fear for those waiting ahead.

 “My first question was, ‘Do you think people got hurt?’ And they were like, ‘Definitely,’” Ren said. “I was mainly just so anxious for my friends and family at the finish line. Everyone can track you on your race, so they know exactly when you’ll be heading towards the finish line. I was so close that they were definitely there. At that moment, it was just complete chaos and confusion.”

 Though Tufts had planned to provide buses at a local Marriott hotel for the runners to return to campus, the area quickly became choked with ambulances, according to Alm. Some students made it to Tufts Medical Center, where a campus shuttle was provided at 136 Harrison Ave. in Boston. Others were forced to find their way home despite the shutdown of much of the T system due to recurring reports of suspicious packages.

Fearing getting stuck in a train underground or in a crowded area with the city under attack, Selvin said she and a friend walked five miles back to Somerville before being picked up.

University President Anthony Monaco joined the university’s chaplains in Goddard Chapel for an interfaith gathering last night. The entire first floor of the chapel was full, with many students congregating in the standing room as well, according to TMT runner Ezra Dunkle-Polier. Students shared their experiences and feelings about the tragedy for the audience before a brief silence was called for meditation and prayer.

 “It was people who wanted to speak and say their piece,” Dunkle-Polier, a senior, said. “The interfaith was just very solemn, very respectful. People weren’t going to get more information, they were just there to hear other Tufts students and enjoy the camaraderie.

Megerle declined to make an official comment out of respect for the dead and injured, but he congratulated his team for a performance that he said was shaping up to be an all-time-best seasonal finish.

 According to Megerle, junior Mikal Davis came in first among the team with a time of 3:23:43, with senior Patricia Moncure leading the women at 3:39:56. Senior Weilin Mun, who was not on the Tufts team but qualified for the marathon and trained with Tufts this year, led the Tufts runners with a personal record time of 3: 20:18.

Megerle estimated that about 35 members of the Marathon Team finished the marathon before the blasts, with the other 61 on track to completion.

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