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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Boston Student Stopped in Boston Marathon Amid Attacks

Courtesy of Greg Fleming

Courtesy of Greg Fleming

 

 

 

When UMass Boston sophomore Greg Fleming laced up his cross trainers on Monday morning for his debut Boston Marathon, he certainly didn’t expect that his race would stop just ten blocks short of the finish line. But that is exactly what happened as the tennis player was running down Commonwealth Avenue in the home stretch of the grueling run. Fleming was stopped at around 2:55 p.m., shortly after the two bombs went off at the finish line, plunging the area into a dark cocktail of chaos and agony.

Fleming was running to fundraise for Camp Shriver, which is operated by the UMass Boston Center for Social Development and Education, and he had just reached his goal of $4,000 a week prior to the Marathon.

When asked about the moment that he was stopped, Fleming said “we were told that the race had been completely stopped, and after going 25.8 miles, you’re a little delirious…you’re so focused on the finish, that for the first 15 minutes, I kind of didn’t register what was going on, there were so many different stories coming at you left and right about explosions, bombs.”

When he stopped, Fleming lucked out and found some generous individuals who helped him. He said “my body was a little dehydrated, and I was fortunate enough that these young grad students on Comm Ave took me in and let me use their landline to let me get in touch with my friends and family that were close to the finish…they gave me a blanket, food, water, and all the attention that you need when you run that kind of a distance.” He added “I didn’t have any issues with hypothermia or cramping but there were a-lot of older runners there that had issues, there were about 4-5,000 runners that stopped prior to the finish line and they needed attention.”

Although Fleming is disappointed about this year’s result, it hasn’t deterred him from wanting to come back stronger in 2014. He said “when you cross the marathon finish line it’s such a big accomplishment, I do feel like I completed the race but I’ve already talked to team Camp Shriver about running it this year, and I want to get one or two more UMass students to go the distance with me.”

This attack has put a damper on a day that Greg has been training for since before Christmas. He is just one of thousands of runners that had their big moment tarnished by the terrible acts of two individuals.

One thing that can’t be stressed enough is that the victims of the attacks were not elite runners, who had already posed for pictures, showered, and gone home to celebrate before 3 p.m. The victims are charity runners and older qualifiers, just regular people who were running the Boston Marathon to push themselves and raise money or awareness for a cause, not to win a prize.

For Fleming, not finishing the race was the least of his worries at the time of the attack. When asked to describe the first hour after he was stopped, and wasn’t able to get in touch with his friends and family, he said “It was surreal. In my mind, you come to a wall of people and hear that there have been explosions, everyone’s seeking shelter. Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan were saying that it wasn’t safe, saying there could be other bombs around the city…it felt simillar a war zone.” He added, “My dad was in the bleachers right across the street from the finish line, and my girlfriend was only a few yards away from the blast, but ten minutes prior she decided to go the family meeting spot just in case I kept running and went there.”

Fleming is lucky that everything worked out the way it did. He was holding a pace through the first half of the race that would have put him at the finish line around the same time that the bombs went off, but his pace slowed in the second half as he took occasional one minute rest breaks and grabbed water more frequently.

He said “I could’ve been right there in the chaos. It’s a miracle that everything worked out the way it did with my family and everybody, they passed the spot a few times, but no one was there at the time.”

All 15 members of UMass Boston’s Camp Shriver team are safe and sound, and the team will be back in 2014, for the 118th running of the Boston Marathon.