Cpl. Albert Kim has been with ACPD for about 13 years. He’s part of the department’s Tactical Training Unit, which holds the dual purpose of serving as a member of the SWAT team and providing training to other officers.
Kim doesn’t consider himself a marathon runner, he considers himself a triathlete. He was recently selected to compete in the International Triathlon Union championships in London this fall. Occasionally, he participates in marathons because they’re a “lower stress” form of training for him. After having been a spectator at the Boston Marathon last year, this year he decided to run it.
Kim had finished the race before the bombings and was already back in Cambridge, where he was staying, and just about to sit down for dinner at a restaurant. The person he was supposed to dine with is a nurse at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where nearly three dozen of the bombing victims were taken for treatment, and immediately was called back to the hospital. Kim said his instinct as a first responder was to do as his dinner partner had done, and head back into the city to assist. But he fought the urge and instead heeded the pleas of local law enforcement officials who asked residents and visitors alike to stay off the streets.
“Being a law enforcement officer, you want to help as much as you can. But at the same time, me not knowing the area, not being familiar with what needs to be done, I would be more of a hindrance,” said Kim. “The best thing I could do was stay out of everyone’s way, not go out, not see what’s going on at the scene, but follow directions. Everyone was being told to stay in place, to not leave their hotel rooms or congregate in groups.”
Like the others in the restaurant, Kim says he stared in disbelief at the scene playing out in front of him on the television.
“Everyone was glued to the television and the first thing I saw on the big screen was a replay of the explosion at the finish line. I was just watching the news and reading the updates. No one’s talking inside the place, everyone’s kind of staring at the television,” said Kim. “I was saddened by what I saw. It was a little bit of confusion too because I think initially everyone was speculating as to what had taken place. My first reaction is, who does something like that? What possess someone to do something like that on such a wonderful day with everyone watching? It’s very disheartening.”
Kim said he didn’t think about “what ifs” or the possibility that he could have been among the victims. He simply thought of the thousands of spectators who came from all around Massachusetts and across the world to show support for the runners, only to witness, and in some cases fall victim to, such a horrific attack.
“My heart went out to the spectators first. I knew that if you’re going to an attack an event like that, you’re going to attack where people congregate in the highest density, and that’s the spectators,” he said. “I just felt awful for the spectators there.”
Kim said it’s not just the images of the attack that will stick with him, but also the sounds that came after.
“I heard nothing but ambulances and police cruisers, with lights and sirens, for the rest of the day,” he said. “It was non-stop.”
In light of the bombings, Kim has decided to alter his triathlon schedule for next year in order to return to Boston for the marathon.
“Initially, before any of this happened, I treated Boston like any other marathon. It’s on the bucket list, I’ll do it once to experience it. But now that this thing has happened, I am fully committed to running this event next year,” said Kim. “I’m making it a priority on my race schedule, which I usually don’t do because I don’t consider myself a marathon runner. It’s something that I look forward to and will be doing next year.”
Eighty-two runners in the 2013 Boston Marathon listed their city of residence as Arlington, Va. Following today’s horrific bombing at the race’s finish line, we’re now starting to hear from some of those Arlington residents who ran the race and escaped the event unscathed.
Arlington resident Pam Howze traveled to Boston with her parents, husband (local political activist Alan Howze) and three children (ages 2, 5 and 7) for the race. Along with a cousin who lives in Boston, they were all at a “T” station about a half mile away from the finish line at the time of the blasts.
“We heard two explosions… we didn’t know what it was,” said Howze, 39, who finished the race with a time of 3:27. She crossed the finish line 30-45 minutes before the bombings.
“I’m happy we’re all safe,” she said. “I’m saddened for everyone who isn’t. It’s very upsetting.”
We asked Howze, who was reached via cell phone as the family drove back to Arlington, whether she would run the race again, in light of the bombing.
“Right now I’m not sure, but I probably would,” she said. “I don’t think I’d bring my whole family, though. “
Some runners and loved ones of runners have taken to social media to say they’re okay.
“I finished at 3:37:39, and I was in the clothes-changing bus when we heard the two explosions and felt the shock waves,” said Jay Jacob Wind, 63, an Arlington Heights resident and prolific local marathon runner. “It was like 9-11, when the ground shook all the way from the Pentagon to my house three miles away. So I’m safe, but I’m saddened by this tragedy, and I share my sorrow with many millions of others.”
A full list of Arlington runners who registered for the race is available on Wind’s blog.
Taneen Carvell, an Arlington resident and training coach with Potomac River Running, “ran well and [is] safe,” according to the store’s Facebook page.
Reynolds Wilson, an Arlington resident and running enthusiast, crossed the finish line well before the bombings.
“He finished in 3:02 and unaware of the events until after the fact,” we’re told. “He and his family all okay.”
Among other local residents who ran the race are Cindy Walls, the cross country and track coach at Bishop O’Connell High School, and her daughter, Katie. In addition to being a coach, Cindy is also a grief counselor. Katie, who graduated from Bishop O’Connell in 2009, ran track in high school and college.
Neither woman finished the race, which was cut short by the bombings, but their 13 mile time, listed on the Boston Marathon website, suggests that it’s unlikely they would have been near the finish line at the time of the explosions. A school spokesman has not yet responded to an inquiry from ARLnow.com.
Update at 9:10 a.m. — Walls and her daughter were still running the course and did not even hear the blasts, but husband John Walls was across the street from one of the explosions and says he could “feel the heat and smell the sulphur,” according to the Sun Gazette.
Have you heard from an Arlington resident who ran the race or who was a spectator near the finish line? Email us at arlingtonnews [at] gmail.com or let us know in the comments.