Chris Kavanagh knows that he was very lucky.
Kavanagh, an 62-year old sales consultant from Oakville, Ont. crossed the Boston Marathon finish line Monday, seconds after two explosives detonated, killing three and injuring more than 100 spectators, some of them critically.
As he approached the famous finish line on Boylston St. in downtown Boston, he heard a loud explosion that he first attributed to a cannon. When he saw smoke fill the air and witnessed panic and confusion, he suddenly knew something very bad had happened. And he knew his wife was about to become very, very worried.
“It happened maybe six yards from me,” said Kavanagh, Tuesday from Oakville. “There was so much smoke you couldn’t see anything. I just kept walking. It was best solution to the situation, in my mind.
“It was just horrific.”
Kavanagh’s wife Mary Jo was positioned at the corner of Hereford and Boylston Streets to cheer him on as he made the left turn towards the finish of what was his second Boston Marathon. She had no idea whether he was hit by the explosion, but knew that it had to have been close.
“It was pretty awful, I saw him go by me, and I started going towards our meeting place,” she said. “I heard the bomb go off. At first, I thought it was a cannon with it being Patriots Day, but then I saw police stopping the runners.
“I knew Chris was right in the middle of it, I figured he had been blown to smithereens,” she added.
She was holding Chris’ phone and received a text message of congratulations. Someone back in Oakville had been tracking his progress online, and his racing chip had triggered an alert that he had crossed the line.
“Because of that I thought, maybe there’s hope.”
The two bomb blasts occurred about 10 seconds and around 100 metres apart, near the finish line. The devices, which appear to have been fashioned for maximum damage, tore limbs from bodies, knocked people to the ground and left the streets spattered with blood and strewn with broken glass. The dead include an 8-year-old boy.
Kavanagh was running with Mariellen Glover, of Burlington, Ont., a teammate from Oakville, Ont. running club Connor’s Runners. They crossed the line at the same time, and may have had the closest calls of any Canadians in the race.
According to the race results, he crossed the finish line six seconds after the bomb detonated.
Kavanagh was philosophical when asked to consider the circumstances that brought him so close to harm’s way.
“I can only think of a couple things, I would have been through the finish line as much as 20 minutes earlier, had I not had a bout of stomach cramps,” he explained. “Those cramps delayed my finish. I would have been far removed from the scene at that point. So, it was close, but I guess the Big Guy had other plans.
The bombings have not deterred Kavanagh’s intention to return to Boston for a future marathon.
“Boston is a great, great place and the authorities did an amazing job, they should be commended. We are proud to call them neighbour,” he said. “I have to go back again. It is such a beautiful city, and this event is such a huge event, with an amazing family atmosphere. I am absolutely more determined to go back,” he said.
Kavanagh was part of a 19-member team from Connor’s Runners. The tight-knit running group train together in the Oakville area under the watchful eye of Oakville chiropractor Dr. Stephen Connor.
According to Kavanagh, they witnessed intense security on their trip out of Boston. Passengers leaving Logan International Airport were interviewed twice by police, once upon arrival at the airport, and again before take off. They were interviewed again by Canadian border guards upon arrival in Canada.
“They left no rock unturned, it was incredibly impressive,” said Kavanagh.
U.S. President Barack Obama said that the bombings were an act of terrorism but that investigators do not know if they were carried out by an international organization, domestic group or a "malevolent individual.''
Prime Minister Stephen Harper pledged to fully cooperate with American efforts to bring the bombers to justice.
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