Meredith Swobodzinski Borrelli, a Sag Harbor native, embraces her husband, A.J., at the 19th mile of the Boston marathon on Monday.
By Kathryn G. Menu
At 9 a.m. on Monday, April 15, 23,200 entrants in the Boston Marathon in Massachusetts — including Sag Harbor native Meredith Swobodzinski Borrelli — observed 26-seconds of silence in honor of the victims of the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Hours later, and roughly 35 minutes after Borrelli crossed the finish line, two explosions detonated a block from each other on Boylston Street, claiming the lives of three people and injuring more than 170 others.
For Borrelli, a 1993 graduate of Pierson High School, Monday was a day she had waited for since qualifying for the oldest annual marathon in existence in 2011 at the Rehoboth Beach Marathon.
In the immediate aftermath of the bombings, Borrelli remained grateful that family and friends were safe, and expressed sorrow for those killed and injured — many critically so — as a result of the attack.
On Monday, Borrelli said she was “celebrating running Boston — I didn’t race it,” but still finished at around 2:15 p.m. with a time of 3:56:56 after beginning in the second wave of runners at 10:20 a.m.
At race mile 19 of the over 26 mile race, Borrelli was greeted by her family — husband A.J., and her two young children, Christopher and Lorelai who were cheering their mother on with Borrelli’s parents, John and Susan, Sag Harbor residents who traveled to Boston to celebrate their daughter’s achievement. Borrelli specifically did not want her young children near the finish line — not because of the instinct something bad would occur, she said, but just because of the frenetic energy around the end of a race.
When Borrelli crossed the finish line at 2:15 p.m. she said she was in the corral for about 20 minutes before leaving the area. When the first explosion occurred, she was roughly a block away.
“It sounded like thunder,” she said. “I thought for awhile it may have been celebratory — the marathon was loud and amazing. But then the emergency vehicles started going by.”
Borrelli was with racing friends — who left the corral about four minutes before the explosions went off after Borrelli asked them to meet her away from the race instead of near the finish line.
“My friend got a text and said it was a bomb that went off, and I said, ‘Okay, lets get out of the city immediately’.”
Her hotel, the Boston Copley Marriott, was shut down while police looked for clues, and the Borrellis stayed outside of Boston on Monday night with Stephanie Lepine Visone and Pat Visone — best friends of the family who also hail from Sag Harbor.
Authorities are still investigating who is responsible for the attack.
Borrelli returned to Boston on Tuesday to pick up her bags. Like everyone in Boston and beyond, she said the events that unfolded on Monday will stay with her always, as will her thoughts for the victims.
Like many racers who competed on Monday, though, Borrelli said she is undeterred in her desire to go back to the Boston Marathon, even though it will likely be changed forever following this week’s events. Borrelli said despite the bombing, she has already set a goal to qualify for the 2015 Boston Marathon at the seventh annual Hamptons Marathon on September 28.
“The stands, the sportsmanship, it is an amazing thing to be a part of,” she said. “The sport itself is a sport that doesn’t exclude anyone and there is a real friendship and camaraderie, a bond that forms between runners.”