JESSICA WRIGHT WAS just about to make the turn onto Boylston Street, entering the homestretch.
"So you're running down Commonwealth Avenue and then all of a sudden there was just a horde of people there," she said. "And you're very confused, and at first nobody really knows what's going on. So you keep running and you're trying to get around the group of people. I was very confused as to why everyone was stopping. And then we would ask people, and nobody really knew what was happening. So it was scary."
Wright, a senior at Harvard, was running her first marathon. A goalkeeper for the Crimson, her soccer career ended because of concussion issues, and she needed a new goal to shoot for. Running the marathon with the Harvard College Marathon Club seemed as good as any.
And all the grueling training runs, the hard work that goes into running a marathon, seemed about to pay off when the bombs detonated.
"At that point, everything was very chaotic," she said. "There was like a rumor of a bomb threat at Kenmore Square, so people were kind of freaking out. Because I was walking back away from the turn on to Boylston, so you're walking back toward Kenmore Square. I just remember being in a daze. They had run out of the cellophane wraps, I guess, so everybody was just freezing. A lot of panic. It was just crazy."
Wright had her cellphone, which she'd been using to keep track of her progress, but now it was useless. Couldn't call out. Couldn't receive any calls. Her father was at the finish line, waiting for her, and she was terrified about what might have happened to him.
"Nobody really knew what was going on, and nobody would say anything," she said. "And I felt like at the time, even the police officers weren't 100 percent sure what was going on. They were like, 'Wait 10 minutes and we'll get information to you.' And you're like, 'But I hear there's a bombing, someone tell us something!' And it was also scary because at that point if you're just gonna stop runners who have been running for that long, a lot of runners who aren't feeling their best at that point will collapse on you. So there were people just stopping and falling, and it was really terrifying."
WILLIAM B. EVANS was in the hot tub when the bombs went off.
He'd finished his 18th Boston in 3:34, met up with his wife and son and brought them home to South Boston, then headed to his sports club for a soak. An officer found the then-Boston police superintendent in the hot water and told him what had happened. Evans leapt from the tub and hurried back to the scene as fast as he could.
"That's when I saw the damage that the explosion made," the Boston police commissioner said. "The windows blown out. The marathon banners ripped apart. And we had the bodies lying right up there, by the Forum restaurant. To have run down that street less than two hours earlier and then to come back and see it was unbelievable."
But Evans had to put his disbelief aside and get to work.
"My role at that point was I met up with the commissioner [Ed Davis] and the chief, and we went back to the Westin [Hotel], where we set up the command post. We developed a game plan and at that point, I sort of became the commander on the street. We had to put the whole police department on emergency shifts, where we were working 12-and-12 and days off were canceled. We had to set up a perimeter around the 20 blocks to secure the crime scene.