Today, April 15, 2018, marks five years since three people were killed and 260 were injured in the Boston Marathon bombing. ‘Boston Strong’ became a slogan for the city and for those who survived or were impacted by the blasts, including runners from San Luis Obispo.
Dave Fleishman is an avid runner and was happy to be celebrating his completion of the 2013 Boston Marathon with friends at a pub just blocks from the finish line when he noticed the broadcast of the finish line in the pub change.
"They started to pan back further and further and I could see there were no fans there was nobody at the finish line and all I could see was a bunch of blood right on the side of the finish line and the whole bar went quiet right then," Fleishman said of the moment. "I thought to myself, that, you know, that looks like someone set a bomb off."
Two bombs, one at the finish line and one a block away, went off as Fleishman and friends watched the chaos unfold around them. He recalls watching emergency vehicles and personnel flood the city, turning his celebration lunch into an unforgettable memory.
"If you know what it feels like when a cold shiver goes up your spine I think probably everyone in that bar kind of had that simultaneous feeling," Fleishman said.
Public transportation and taxi services stopped in Boston, and the city shut down, he explained. Unfortunately, Fleishman was due to take off on a flight home just two hours after the bombings, so he had to get creative with his ride to the airport. "The only way I could get out there was I had to rent a bicycle and ride out there with my luggage on the handlebars," he explained.
Once on the plane, Fleishman still couldn’t escape the unfolding horror. The plane was equipped with live televisions, and coverage of the Boston bombings filled each screen. "For five or six hours I should have been falling asleep on that flight and I was just kind of glued to the T.V.," he said. "I was watching the T.V. in the row in front of me because I didn’t want to watch it on my own T.V."
Fleishman even listened to the Boston Police scanner once home. "I had it in the background in the office and as soon as they cornered one of the guys in the boat, I was listening to it happen live and my work productivity was pretty bad that entire week."
Despite the bombings and thinking he’d never run the Boston Marathon again, Fleishman returned in 2014 to show "this is our town this is our race and we’re not going to be bullied into submission."
But the race wasn’t easy – mentally or physically. Turning onto the final stretch of road, Boylston Street, Fleishman was overcome with emotion. "My throat started seizing up and I was trying not to start sobbing," he said, eyes welling at the thought. "But when I got to the finish line I just broke down crying because it was an emotional day. And it still is emotional today."
And this year, he’s ready to take on the challenge again, unsure of what his reaction will be once he’s crossed the finish line. "It’s forever going to have that memory for me getting to the finish line."
Fleishman says the 2013 bombings were not only an attack on Boston, but on the sport of running. By running it again, he proves that both are resilient.