SJC grads survive Boston chaos
It was certainly on pace to be a weekend that St. John Central graduate Kristin Heilmeier would never forget.
In Boston, to run her second Marathon on Monday, the Class of 2006 product received an added bonus during her trip to Massachusetts.
Heilmeier’s boyfriend, Marcos Santos, whom she met as an undergraduate at the University of Kentucky, proposed to her Sunday evening, just hours before she was to be at the starting line.
However, as it turned out the weekend became something she won’t ever forget for all of the wrong reasons.
“It was a great weekend other than the bad ending,” Heilmeier said during a phone interview.
Heilmeier finished her fourth career marathon and first Boston Marathon since 2009 with a time of 3 hours, 28 minutes.
Thankfully, Heilmeier and her fiance were out of harm’s way before the explosions, which federal authorities have indicated they believe is terrorism and were made by using pressure cookers.
“For me, it was more confusion and uncertainty than anything else,” Heilmeier said.
Soon after finishing the race, Heilmeier met up with her fiance, who didn’t participate, and the couple headed for the Boston mass transportation system.
Their time on the subway was short, however. The explosions, which injured more than 170 people and killed at least three people, sent the city into a frenzy and the mass transportation was shut down.
“We were on the train, it stopped and they evacuated it immediately,” Heilmeier said. “We heard all of the ambulances and that two bombs had gone off.”
Heilmeier and Santos stayed in Cambridge, but without mass transportation, they were in a state of flux.
“Since the subway was closed indefinitely, we started out on foot, but we eventually got a cab back to the hotel,” Heilmeier said.
Needing to catch a flight to Des Moines to get back to Iowa State University where she’s a student in the veterinary school, Heilmeier literally got back to the hotel, collected her belongings and caught another cab to the airport.
“I was a little nervous getting on the plane that quickly after what had happened,” Heilmeier said. “Plus, I didn’t even have time to take a shower or get something to eat.”
Heilmeier flew to Washington D.C. and then onward to Des Moines without an issue. However, she did have time to reflect on what she had experienced.
“It’s just so humbling and terrifying that literally 30 minutes before (the explosions), I was in that same exact spot,” Heilmeier said. “And my fiance and others that I care about were in that spectators’ zone. It just reminds you how life is so unpredictable.”
St. John Central graduate Nick Habursky (Class of 2005) also ran the Boston Marathon, but he finished in a personal best 2 hours, 51 minutes. He was well out of the area and on his way back to the hotel and then airport before the explosions.
Though he didn’t witness or experience the tragedy first hand, Habursky still found himself just stunned with what had transpired.
“It’s such a terrible tragedy,” Habursky said via text message. “It’s so sad because it’s such a community involved race that really promotes the feeling of common brotherhood. It’s just terrible that something like that has happened.”
He and Heilmeier didn’t get a chance to see one another before the race.
“I had talked to (SJC cross country coach) Jeremy (Midei) and he said he’d heard from Nick and he was OK,” Heilmeier admitted.
Heilmeier doesn’t think that Monday’s events will deter her from running in Boston again, should she qualify.
“I don’t think it will hold many runners back at all, honestly,” Heilmeier said. “It’s such an iconic race and event.”
Heilmeier isn’t sure when her next marathon will be because she’s entering her clinicals to become a veterinarian.
“I am probably going to focus on the half (marathon), 10Ks and 5Ks,” Heilmeier admitted. “Once, I finish school, I’ll get back into doing marathons. I really enjoy the marathon because it fits my personality well. Plus, it’s a great stress reliever and the training is so much fun.”
Staskey can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org