As the finish line at the Boston Marathon literally exploded into chaos on April 15, Randy Fox was on his way out of Beantown and completely oblivious to the horrific attack.
Tired and achy from running the race, the 46-year-old Stansbury Park man and his wife were driving out of the city at the time of the attack when they got a call.
“Our son called our cell phone and asked if we were OK, and we said there was no reason to worry, and that’s when we learned about the explosion,” he said.
The famed race was Fox’s seventh time running a marathon, but only his first time at the Boston Marathon. He qualified for the race at the St. George Marathon last year.
Fox ran the 26.2-mile course in an official time of 3 hours and 27 minutes. The two bombs, allegedly planted at the finish line by brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, went off about four hours after the race began. Fox had parked about a mile away from the race and did not have the radio on in his car. He hadn’t heard about the blasts that killed three and injured 170.
“My first thought was that it was just hard to believe, and then fear for everybody, because the finish line of the marathon is such a crowded place,” he said. “It seemed like you couldn’t fit more people in that area — so I was just afraid hundreds of people had been killed or hurt because it was such a big event.”
Those crowds, which were suddenly regarded as potential terrorist targets instead of friendly gatherings of support, has been one of the things Fox has thought about most since the marathon.
“I certainly don’t have any fear to run a marathon or to go to an event like that again, but I do know that things have changed,” he said. “At the Salt Lake marathon (on Saturday) they limited the number of people at the finish, so I do wonder if it will change security and crowd gathering, the ability of crowds to cheer and all that, but it hasn’t really changed my feelings of being secure or running.”
However, he noted, most of the marathons he has run have been smaller with only small clumps of onlookers. Big crowds are often present along the route of the Boston Marathon.
“To me, the crowds, it’s not a big part [of the marathon experience], it’s not that important, but I think it is important in Boston,” he said. “I think that’s what makes it a unique experience.”
Although he had left the area before it erupted into chaos, Fox said his connection with the now-infamous race has made the events of that day more personal to him. He has followed the investigation — the slaying of Tamerlan in a gun battle with police, and the arrest of Dzhokhar — more closely than he might have otherwise.
Fox said he plans on running more marathons, and would like to do the Boston Marathon again, though he may wait a few years because of the expense and effort just to get to the starting line. Despite the events that followed his run in Boston, the race itself was a good experience, he said, though it’s hard to completely separate his experience and the attacks.
“It was difficult but it was fun, up until we heard about the explosions, which kind of changed how we felt about it,” he said.