Injured in bombings, a spectator turns runner in 2014 Boston Marathon
(FOXSports.com has been chronicling the tales of more than two dozen people affected by the Boston bombings at last year’s marathon.This is our next installment. Read their stories.)
Last Marathon Monday, Kellie Marshall made the last-minute decision to join her cousins as a spectator at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
Marshall, now a senior at Boston University, was one of the hundreds injured by the bombings last year. She was standing on top of a short fence in front of Atlantic Fish Co., one of the restaurants near the finish line, and estimates she was approximately six feet away from the second bomb.
Marshall did not see it blow up; she had her head turned toward where the first bomb exploded when the force of the second explosion threw her about eight feet backward into the concrete wall of the restaurant, knocking her out.
When Marshall regained consciousness, a table was tipped over onto her leg and she was bleeding from her head. People lay severely injured among pools of blood and severed limbs on the sidewalk in front of her.
She could not find her cousins and remembers yelling for them as she tried to comprehend the horrific scene. Marshall’s cousin, Dan, had been standing next to Martin Richard, the 8-year-old boy killed by the blasts, when the bomb went off, and Dan used his shirt as a tourniquet to try to keep Martin alive until his father and first responders could reach him.
Meanwhile, someone – Marshall does not know whom — recognized Marshall was injured and carried her into the restaurant.
Marshall suffered a severe concussion, ruptured eardrum and had shrapnel embedded in her right leg as a result of the blast. She was lucky.
“If the fence wasn’t in front of me, I think it would have been a lot worse for me because there were so many people who were standing right in front of me who lost limbs,” Marshall said.
Since the bombings, Marshall has been one of many who received support from The One Fund for everything from medical bills to healing seminars to techniques to help ease the post-traumatic anxiety many people continue to suffer from daily. In the fall, The One Fund sent out an email offering memorial invitations for anyone interested in running this year’s marathon.
Marshall accepted and is planning ahead for Marathon Monday this year, as the 21-year-old is preparing to return to Boylston Street as one of the runners in the 2014 Boston Marathon.
Marshall had never run a marathon, but she said she immediately knew it was something she wanted to do.
“I’ve always enjoyed running and I think it would be the perfect form of closure for me,” Marshall said.
I’ve always enjoyed running and I think it would be the perfect form of closure for me.
She started training in October, and like any runner, she has to wake up extra early or fit in a run late at night up to five times per week in order to build up the stamina for the 26.2-mile run. As a senior at BU majoring in severe special education and one of the student managers for the school’s men’s hockey team, Marshall also balances a full course-load of college classes and her student-teaching schedule crammed in around hockey practices, games and trips for away games.
Then there are the residual effects from her injuries – both physical and mental – that linger to this day. She said she still thinks about everything she saw at the marathon at least two or three times per day, and flashbacks and nightmares continue to keep her up at night.
“If something is like a little bit off, I think it’s not normal,” Marshall said. “I’m just very on edge walking around campus or anywhere with a lot of people.”
Marshall still experiences some symptoms from the concussion she suffered, but nothing has been able to get in the way of her marathon preparation. She credited her family, friends and the BU hockey team as invaluable support systems both in helping her recover and supporting her marathon training.
Marshall will need that support as she nears the finish line on April 21. She has been back to Atlantic Fish Co. since the bombings, and she admitted that while returning to Boylston Street as a runner might be difficult, her desire to cross the finish line will make it all worth it.
“Just having to picture myself run by around the same time that it happened and everything, that’s just going to be tough,” Marshall said. “But I think crossing the finish line will be like a giant ‘[screw] you.’ It will just show everyone that it shouldn’t keep anyone down.
“It happened. It’s over. We can’t be afraid.”