BOSTON -- Townsend resident and Chelmsford High School head cross country coach Brian Crane was excited to start the race Monday morning, like the multitude of runners around him. Monday was a special day for Crane. It was his 25th consecutive Boston Marathon and was supposed to be remembered as a personal milestone. Not a national tragedy.
"I'm just talking for myself. In a sport you think is safe, and for something like that to happen, is just total shock. This is a sport where you don't think you will ever be involved with something like that."
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Crane finished the race in 3 hours and 14 minutes, and crossed the finish line at approximately 1:40 p.m., one hour before the two bombs were detonated on Boylston Street.
Crane milled around for about a half hour, ran into some old runners he coached and then started to make his exit from the city.
Crane boarded the subway at around 2:10 p.m. and was already on his way back home to Townsend when the explosions sent sharp projectiles flying through the Boston air.
"I bumped into a couple of high school kids I knew that were running," said Crane. "The three of us had a nice little chat in the changing area, and then I high-tailed it out of there. I was probably over in Cambridge on the subway when that happened at 2:50 p.m."
Crane has lived in numerous communities prior to settling in Townsend, and he was overwhelmed with the thoughtfulness of the people he knew from all across the nation.
"My phone went off for four hours straight," said Crane. "I had seven or eight calls from people out of state and numerous texts from kids I coached in the last 15 years or so were texting me left and right. It was just a bizarre day, and it didn't stop until this morning. It is great to know that there are people out there who really care."
President Barack Obama mentioned in a news conference Monday that "Boston is a resilient city," and Crane feels that the attack will only bring the country and the city closer together.
"Yeah, you have tragedy here, but you are going to see this country come together," said Crane. "You have seen great stories already about how people responded and went through trouble without thinking about themselves. It's a bad thing, but I know a lot of people aren't going to let it beat them, and I know the city of Boston will come back a lot stronger."
When Crane crossed the finish line, it was normal. Crane received his medal just like he has for 25 straight years. A day where he finally reached the quarter-century club after pounding out 665 miles on the same stretch of pavement from Hopkinton to Copley Square. Crane was unaware that this year's marathon would soon take such a tragic turn.
"I got home and put on the TV and thought, 'what the hell just happened,'" said Crane. "I was saying to my girlfriend today that I consider myself very lucky. If you look at history, you can see that this is a crazy, crazy week. I remember coming home flipping on the TV and seeing Waco burn down.
"The Oklahoma City bombing, Columbine and the Virginia Tech shooting -- all happened this week. For me to see that yesterday on my soil, in my area, I would have never thought in a million years that tragedy would come to Boston."
Runners are a mentally tough bunch who are accustomed to grinding out that extra mile when their bodies tell them that they cannot go any farther. Crane is hopeful that the city of Boston will grow stronger than ever in the wake of the Marathon bombings.
"I am not going to be able to forget it, it is just a part of life," said Crane of the attacks. "I will be positive, and I don't think it will deter any of the runners from being here next year. No way whatsoever. Some coward tried to ruin what the American way is all about. I think that this is going to make Boston a stronger community than it was before. If we can deal with all that crazy weather we get in New England, we can weather this."
When asked if he would run the Boston marathon again, Crane said, "This isn't going to stop me. If anything, it's going to make me want to do it more," said Crane. "I am going to dedicate myself next year to those who lost their lives."