BOSTON, Mass. — Just 70 minutes after finishing the Boston Marathon Apr. 15, owner/operator Leo McCosham of Summerfield, P.E.I. and his girlfriend Brenda Benson were recovering in a staging area about a half-kilometre from the finish line when they heard an explosion.
It was quickly followed by a second explosion and when McCosham saw smoke rising in the distance, he knew right away it was a terrorist attack.
“We had just gotten done and were heading back to the hotel,” McCosham, an O/O with Brookville Carriers in Saint John, N.B. told Trucknews.com this morning. “When you finish the Boston Marathon, you have to keep moving, they won’t let you stand around.”
Runners are required to visit a staging area about half a kilometre from the finish line, where buses are parked containing any clothes or belongings participants left behind at the start of the race. McCosham and Benson were at those buses when the attacks occurred.
“We kind of knew (it was a terrorist attack) when there were two (explosions),” he said. “We pretty well knew it. You could see the smoke. They evacuated three hotels right along the strip there.”
McCosham and Benson were staying at a Boylston Street hotel about a kilometre from the blast site. They took refuge in their hotel room and watched the events unfold on TV. McCosham said they were far enough from the explosions that he never felt their safety was in imminent danger.
“I’m just not the nervous type,” he said.
The hotel placed a note under their door, advising guests to stay inside. That’s what McCosham and Benson did until the next morning, when they drove back home to P.E.I. At the Houlton-Woodstock border crossing, McCosham said three FBI officers were canvassing travellers who were returning from the race for any video or photos they had taken at the scene. However, McCosham and Benson didn’t take pictures at this year’s event, as they were focused on setting a new personal best time for Benson, who accomplished that goal in three hours and 19 minutes.
For McCosham, it was his fourth time running the Boston Marathon. He finished it in three hours and 20 minutes, running alongside Benson for much of the race. He stopped for a drink close to the finish and urged Benson to continue on ahead, finishing the race about a minute behind her. His own personal best is an impressive two hours and 43 minutes.
The runners were understandably disheartened by the attacks.
“We were quite disappointed,” McCosham said. “It took all the excitement out of the whole atmosphere. The Boston Marathon is everybody’s goal; it’s the most prestigious marathon in the world and one of the only ones you have to qualify to get into. Everybody for years tries to qualify for Boston, so everybody is just excited and happy and to take that away from some 23,000 runners and spectators, that is pretty disheartening.”
McCosham has already qualified for the 2014 race and says he’ll return. He’s also eyeing the New York City marathon later this year.
The 49-year-old McCosham worked as a driver-trainer for the past few years, before deciding to buy a truck and trailer and go back on the road as an owner/operator. He put the truck on with Brookville Carriers and now trains for events while on the road.
“I can train anywhere,” he said. “I just stop the truck. My minimum run is 10 miles a day, so I need an hour and 10 minutes to do that run and 20 minutes of prep time, so I need an hour-and-a-half from start to finish.”
McCosham subscribes to running magazines and collects trail maps so he can find a place to run anywhere he travels. His girlfriend Benson is an account rep with Old Dutch Foods.
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