Runners getting set to take part in the Boston Marathon were warned beforehand that they were going to die, said a Squamish resident who took part in the race.
Three people were killed and more than 140 were injured when two bombs exploded near the finish line of the famed 42.2-kilometre running event on Monday (April 15).
Mike Heiliger, 59, said a woman holding several bags was telling runners who were picking up their pre-race packages in downtown Boston on Saturday (April 13) that they were going to die if they participated in the event.
“I was downtown on Saturday and you know, you see these people on the street and think it's just some nutbar,” he told The Chief from his Boston hotel on Monday. “It was a little creepy because you can identify who the runners are and I heard her say to this runner two feet away from me that, 'If you run tomorrow you're going to die.'”
At the time, Heiliger said he thought about telling the woman that the race was Monday, but decided not to correct her.
Heiliger was in the process of calling the police after his conversation with The Chief.
“I thought it was just a nut and maybe she was a nut but she was holding a couple of bags like she just got off a plane and was accosting runners on Saturday,” he said.
The Squamish resident was one of a group of about 15 runners from the North Shore and he said they're all fine.
“We all run in a run club and as far as I know all of our people are OK,” he said. “Some of them didn't get to finish, unfortunately, because when the bomb went off — that was it. They [race officials] stopped everybody.”
Heiliger finished the race in 3:29:51 and was making his way back to his hotel when the explosions went off.
“I was just coming to the hotel and I heard all these sirens,” he said. “But you're in a big city and when you hear sirens you think nothing of it.”
It was the fourth time Heiliger had raced in Boston and said the scene was disturbing.
“I'm just stunned right now,” he said. “It's a terrible situation. Boston has really embraced this race, they really get up for this thing and they're so friendly. For something like this to happen it's mind boggling.”
He said whoever set up the explosions had put some thought into it.
“Whoever did this knew what they were doing,” he said. “They knew where to put it where the most people were.”
Despite the disastrous day, Heiliger said the tragedy will not dampen his enthusiasm for the race.
“I think I would still come back to Boston,” he said. “I bet security will be insane from here on in but I take the attitude that if you stay away, you let the crazies win. Time will tell what comes of this. This is huge. They [locals] want to hang someone out on the streets.”
For updates on this developing story, check back with www.squamishchief.com or see this week's print edition of The Chief.
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