Dennis Dahl was just half a mile away from the finish line when he was stopped. He and other runners stood still as they heard there had been an explosion.
“We thought maybe it was an accidental gas explosion,” he recalled. “Not a bombing.”
Dahl was one of many who witnessed a day of human triumph turn to a day of fear and chaos. Three people were killed and more than 100 were injured in the Boston Marathon on April 15.
“I don’t even know who won the Boston Marathon,” said Dahl. “It was supposed to be a big celebration. People had to work really hard to qualify. Especially for those of us doing it the first time… it’s exciting to cross the finish line and that was taken away from 27,000 people.”
But he said not finishing the race pales in comparison to the violence of that day.
“I’m pissed,” he said. “It was absolutely senseless.”
Dahl had qualified for the race in the fall by completing the Coeur d’Alene marathon in just about four hour.,
He told the Sounder in November that, “Really, it’s a big deal. I’ve always been excited to have a chance to do it.”
Luckily he and his wife Bonnie, who went to cheer Dahl on, were not injured by the explosions. But he was separated from Bonnie for nearly an hour. He described that time as “being in panic” until they were reunited. But it also revealed the goodness in humanity that day - a woman invited him into her home and he was given a blanket and food as they attempted to contact his wife.
“It was just one of the many acts of kindness I saw that day,” said Dahl.”People were really amazing.”
Dahl, a 65-year old retired football coach and physical education teacher, known for his positive attitude and can-do spirit estimates that he has finished four or five marathons. Last year he ran the 100-mile Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc and before that he ran in the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon with his son and daughter.
He started training yesterday for his next race - he plans on completing the North Olympic Marathon on June 2.
Before the Boston Marathon, he told the Sounder, “if you keep moving they can’t get you” and that he doesn’t “plan to slow down – life is too fragile.”
Now these are words that ring all too true with an eerie resonance for a day that few will be able to forget.