Horsham runner tells of ‘destructive’ Boston Marathon blast

Tony Frankland
Tony Frankland

A Horsham runner has told of the ‘destructive’ moment two explosions ripped through crowds at the Boston Marathon on Monday (April 15).

Tony Frankland, of Milnwood Road, passed the finish line minutes before the blasts which reportedly killed three people - including an eight-year-old boy - and injured at least 140.

He described it as a ‘massive, destructive thing to happen’ and said his experience is ‘sobering’.

The 52-year-old ran with fellow Horsham Joggers member Dave Sandham and were both making their way to the subway when they heard the bombs detonate in Boylston Street.

“We heard pretty significant explosions about ten seconds apart from each other,” said Mr Frankland, who was walking nearby in the Boston Common area.

“Everyone stopped and looked and thought that doesn’t sound right. But you try to rationalise it and we thought it might be a gun salute for Patriots’ Day.

“We didn’t really jump to any conclusions until the fire engines and ambulances ran around.”

The first blast came at around 2.50pm local time, about an hour and a half after the pair had finished.

National media report initial confusion and panic, with some runners falling to the floor while police and bystanders ran to help those caught in the explosion.

Another blast happened between 50 and 100 metres away from the finishing line.

Photos and footage from the scene show spectators and runners covered in blood and debris scattered across the road.

“The whole finish area is extremely busy because it’s packed with people watching and had stands for media,” said the runner, who continued back to the hotel before subway services were cancelled.

“We have to recognise that this is a massive, massive event in the community of Boston - it’s like their festival of the year. You can’t underestimate what big an event it is. It’s a bank holiday and everyone’s out and having a party. It completely overshadows the London Marathon.

“This is a massive, destructive thing to happen to that event.”

Mr Frankland managed to avoid much of the chaos and caught a plane home that evening.

“It’s slightly sobering to think that sort of thing happens at an event you’re taking part in,” he added.

Fellow members of Horsham Joggers were quick to share their relief after hearing the news.

Chairman Tony Johnson told the County Times: “I’m immensely relieved that they were both well away from the explosions.”

Mr Johnson, received an email at about 9pm (GMT) on Monday whilst he was in Vienna for a marathon. It included finish times of 3.08 for Mr Sandham and 3.20 for Mr Frankland.

“It’s a tragedy but I hope that we can carry on with the London Marathon in our traditional English spirit,” he added.

Another member, Andy Spriggs, said: “It’s fantastic that they’re safe, I’m very relieved.

“Mentally it’s a trauma to be involved with an event like that. When you’re so close to something happening you start thinking about the ‘what ifs’.”

He added that it ‘puts doubt in the back of your mind’ in the lead up to Sunday’s London Marathon.

The Metropolitan police are reviewing their security preparations for the event, which the sports minister Hugh Robertson insisted will go ahead on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.