‘I can’t get out of my mind how close I was’: London runner recounts Boston Marathon bombing

D.J. De Jesus, middle, completed the 2013 Boston Marathon just ten minutes before the first bomb went off.
D.J. De Jesus, middle, completed the 2013 Boston Marathon just ten minutes before the first bomb went off. DJ De Jesus

Exactly five years and a day after the Boston Marathon bombing, a Londoner is sharing his experience of the marathon and the aftermath.

READ MORE: Boston marks 5 years since marathon bombing with tributes

D.J. De Jesus, general manager and partner at Rho-Can Machine & Tool Company Ltd., was 55 when he joined roughly 30,000 others to race on April 15, 2013. He completed the course just 10 minutes before the first bomb went off.

“I can’t get out of my mind how close I was,” he told 980 CFPL.

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“My whole family – my two daughters and their husband and boyfriend at the time, my wife, everybody – was right there where the bomb went off. It was just pure luck that I ran the course 10 minutes faster and my family got away.”

De Jesus told 980 CFPL that his family was booked to leave right after the marathon and hurried back to their hotel. On the way, he noticed some people with bloodied knees and heard sirens, but thought nothing of it.

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“You run 42 kilometres and your brain isn’t 100 per cent there when you finished,” he explained.

“Honestly, I didn’t realize what was happening around me until I got to the hotel and I looked at the TV screen and everybody started asking me all these questions.”

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Three people were killed and over 260 people were injured after two homemade bombs detonated near the marathon’s finish line. One of the two suspects died days later while on the run while the other was later arrested and sentenced to death.

When he recalls the bombings now, De Jesus said it’s anger that really sticks in his mind.

“You finally get to do the race that you’ve dreamt of and all of a sudden something like this happens. I kept asking myself ‘why?’ Why would anybody want to harm runners? We were all diverse – from different nations, different ethnic groups. We all had the same goal but we were all different people.”

Dejesus planned to run again, not in 2014 as he believed it would be too emotional, but in 2015. He had trained and registered for the race but a month beforehand he tore his ACL and was unable to race.

While the bombing was a day he will never forget, De Jesus also remembers the kindness of the spectators, the sense of accomplishment in completing the race, and the sense of community in Boston.

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READ MORE: ‘Totally surreal experience’: Edmonton woman with rare disorder runs Boston Marathon.

As for those competing in 2018, De Jesus is confident every runner will come back with phenomenal memories.

“If my knees hadn’t failed me, I would be there every year for the rest of my life.”

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