'I’m still struggling to comprehend someone bombing this race'


Vernon Loeb, the former investigations editor at the Los Angeles Times, has run marathons (61 of them) and covered the horrors of terrorism. But never on the same day until Monday, he writes in his current newspaper, the Washington Post. Before he lined up for the race, he savored the the view at the finish line, a hallowed place the racers don't really get to enjoy after running for 26.2 miles. On Monday, he crossed the line at 2:11 p.m., slower than his usual race time, and 39 minutes before the first explosion. He knew right away from his time in war and terror zones that it was a bomb.

I remember once during a firefight in Fallujah how unprepared I was for the sheer volume of combat. What I heard reverberating down Boylston Street was way too loud to be some sort of industrial explosion — and the second blast only confirmed that.

Unable to take even a normal step, my knees aching and my calves knotting up, I typed a note on my iPhone to The Washington Post’s new executive editor, Marty Baron. He used to edit the Boston Globe, whose coverage of the Boston Marathon has always been spectacular.

Subject line: “Marathon bombs.” Message: “Seems like two bombs just went off near the marathon finish line, on Boylston St, in a instant, a hush fell over the post marathon scene, then the back bay erupted in sirens. CAnt call right now — no lines.”

Loeb struggled to his car in the garage of the Prudential Center and "gathered up two legal pads and a handful of pens, leaving my laptop, my iPad and, most critically, my iPhone charger in my car. I can come back and get them after an initial round of reporting, I thought. But within minutes, Boston police had expanded the crime scene around the Prudential Center, stringing yellow tape between me and my Honda. I couldn’t get back to my car until Tuesday morning, hours after my iPhone ran out of juice." More at the Post plus a gallery of photos.

Also: At KPCC's website, John Rabe talks to Renee Opell of Studio City, who stopped at mile 25 of the Boston Marathon to take a picture — it may have saved her life.

Cropped photo: Mourners in Boston. Lisa Kessler for The Washington Post/Gallery

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