Nanoose Bay man tells Boston Marathon story

Terry Riggins only 100 metres from blasts; another Nanoose Bay runner, Gene Wray, is also safe at home

With his family watching the horror of Boston Marathon day unfold on TV and unable to reach him, Nanoose Bay resident Terry Riggins was just trying to find some food and his bearings.

Riggins had just finished the marathon, was putting on some clothes and was “still a little fuzzy” when he heard the first blast about 100 metres away from where he and wife Christine were standing.

“Being Canadian, I thought it was an accident, maybe a natural gas explosion,” Riggins said Monday from his home in Nanoose Bay. “You don’t really think terrorism.”

Then the second bomb detonated.

“Then we knew it had to be a bomb,” said Riggins. “You could feel a concussion, the ground shake a bit.”

Terry and Christine, like everyone else, were quickly ushered out of Boston’s downtown core that afternoon, April 15, after two bombs killed three people and injured dozens. One suspect in the bombings is dead and another is in custody.

Riggins said he was having a hard time walking, having just finished the 42-kilometres race, struggling the last 12 km with hamstring issues. Cell phones were of no use — service was cut off in Boston by authorities soon after the blasts. Terry and Christine didn’t really know what was happening and they couldn’t call family.

They eventually made it to their hotel, a four-kilometre walk that took four hours.

“And I had to walk the whole distance, and it’s like baby steps because I’m all cramped up.”

Along the way, Boston residents were appearing on their porches, offering help, food and drink to Riggins.

“It was an amazing response from the people,” he said. “They were so kind to us.”

Eventually the Riggins’ made it to the hotel and then to New York via train the next day, just hours before Boston was put into lockdown and the trains were no longer allowed to operate.

This was Riggins’ third marathon, his first in Boston. He said he “definitely would not be afraid to go back” to Boston, but right now his aching body isn’t letting him think about marathon running.

“It was an amazing experience, just not a great ending,” said Riggins, who finished the marathon in  three hours and 49 minutes. “But the people of Boston are something special, let me tell you.”

The events after he crossed the finish line put things in perspective, her said.

“It definitely reminds you what is important and the marathon wasn’t important anymore, even though it was the focus of my training for six-eight months.”

Riggins said he spoke Monday with Gene Wray, another Nanoose Bay resident who ran the Boston Marathon that day and is also home safe.