Bexley resident Christine Hoyer was among the estimated 36,000 people striving to cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 21, one year after a bombing had marred the annual event.
Preparing for this year's marathon was therapeutic for Hoyer, since she ran the race last year and witnessed firsthand the devastation from two bombs that detonated and killed three spectators while injuring 264 others.
"Immediately after the race last year, I told myself that I had accomplished exactly what I intended to do. I did not need to come back to run that grueling course once again. It was checked off my list," Hoyer said.
"Then, just moments later, the unthinkable happened. I hear the explosions. I know instantly that something is terribly wrong. I feel fear take over my wearied and worn body."
Hoyer said she used her cellphone to call a friend who had been on the sidelines and was sitting directly across from where the bombs were planted, about 210 yards from the finish line on Boylston Street. Hoyer's friend fortunately was not injured and advised her to go far away from the crowds and the confusion.
Several hours later, Hoyer made it to the safety of a friend's house in the Hingham area of Boston. She said she was horrified as she and her friends watched news coverage of the attack.
"I realized that the injuries were sustained not by my fellow runners and friends, but by the innocent bystanders who were there to support us, inspire us, propel us to complete 26.2 miles," she said. "I was sad, mad and resentful."
Hoyer said the main emotion she felt was a desire to help the victims and commemorate those who lost their lives.
She said she realized that one way she could assist in the healing process was to make plans to run the marathon again. She wanted to express her gratitude to the estimated 1 million spectators who come out to support the runners each year.
Hoyer and a group of friends from Bexley trained for this year's marathon and made the journey to Boston together.
"We are here paying tribute to the city and all those impacted by the tragedies of last year," she said. "We are very proud to be a part of this iconic experience."
Hoyer related by phone on Saturday, April 19, that instead of finding fear of a possible copycat attack, the mood in Boston leading up to the marathon was one of hopefulness and mutual support.
"There's so much sense of security. People are walking around freely. Nobody seems nervous. Nobody's talking about any of the concerns or worries from last year," she said.
"I feel like on Monday, it's going to be the safest place in the United States. They've taken enough precautions to make the runners feel safe and the spectators as well."
Hoyer said she is grateful for the support of her fellow runners, friends and her husband, Bill, son of the senior Bill Hoyer, who was a coach and teacher at Bexley High School for 39 years, and their three children, Will, 14; Allison, 13; and Lillian, 10.
"People are jovial and happy and it's not somber," she said Saturday. "People are here for the right reasons. The race will go on."