BOSTON — A Floyd County native who completed her first Boston Marathon only minutes before Monday’s explosions says she will not let acts of terrorism keep her from future races.
“If I qualify again, I’ll be back; and I’ll bring all of my running partners with me,” was Prestonsburg native Lesley Gray’s response to her first Boston Marathon being marred by tragedy Monday afternoon.
Gray says at first, she wasn’t so certain whether or not she would participate in any large races again.
“It was so surreal, and I was thinking I’ll never do the Boston again, I’ll only do small races,” Gray said of her post-race feelings. “But I woke up and I was just so angry. This doesn’t just affect Boston, it affects all races. It affects the running culture.”
Gray says that she was about a block and half away, standing in the family reunion tent, when the first of two explosions erupted near the finish line.
“We heard this loud boom, and you could tell that it wasn’t normal, like a transformer or a car wreck,” said Gray, who added that following the second explosion seconds later, she started to move away from the area.
“We knew that it didn’t sound right, and wanted to clear the area.”
As of press time, three people had died as a result of the explosions, and more than 150 had been injured.
As she moved away from the area, Gray said she was still uncertain of what had happened, so she called her mother to check in, and asked her to check the Internet for breaking news. That was when she learned the full impact of what had happened.
Gray, a Paintsville High School graduate, now lives in Louisville and has been running for five years. She says she has run seven marathons, but Monday’s race was her first Boston Marathon.
Lesley finished the race at 03:52:58; 17 minutes before the first bomb exploded.
Every year, the Boston Marathon, a 26.2-mile race through the neighborhoods of the city, attracts tens of thousands of runners from around the world, and even more spectators. Gray says she didn’t notice anything unusual, but added that the sheer scope of the event would make it difficult to notice anything out of the ordinary. “The race is such a big ordeal for the city, and for the runners.”
“There is just so much, I don’t know how you could ever notice things,” Gray said. “It’s a holiday for Boston, it’s Patriots Day. It’s a big celebration. I don’t know how you could notice any strange activity. They take you to like another town, and you run to Boston. There are people everywhere. Grandstands are packed with people.”
During a Tuesday press conference, President Barack Obama said that the FBI is investigating the event as an act of “terrorism,” though it was still unclear whether a group or an individual was responsible.
Following the race, Gray checked in on Facebook to let friends and relatives know she was safe. She said that she met a two-time qualifier from England whom when she asked how he felt, said he was angry and would not let them stop him from running.
Gray’s response: “I’m with him.”