When Rockville Centre resident Natalie Petrone warmed up last month at the starting line of the Boston Marathon, she could only think about crossing the finish line.
Like thousands of other survivors, she never had that chance.
Natalie, a sophomore at Boston College, began preparing for the race in January. A runner since her middle school years, Natalie had built herself up to 7-mile daily runs, and after completing her first 18-mile run, she decided it was time to try her first marathon.
As a BC student, Natalie ran as a member of the Campus School Volunteers Marathon Team, which competes on behalf of the college’s special needs school. Each runner sponsors an individual child at the school, with the money raised poured directly into the school’s coffers.
At the starting line, runners were milling about, stretching and chatting — most, Natalie reported, wearing shirts emblazoned with the names of charities.
“I was in awe of how incredible people are,” she said. “And seeing all the people lined up to cheer us on and hand out water and hold up signs to help get us through was touching. I won’t ever forget how that felt.”
The first half of the race flew by, but after 20 miles, Natalie started to flag. After seeing two of her siblings at the 21-mile mark, and then her parents at the 24, she readied herself for the final push — only to be stopped, with no explanation, half a mile from the finish.
“No one had any solid information on why we were stopped,” she said. “Then I heard someone say that there were explosions at the finish, and I started to panic. I tried calling my parents, but no service was going through. I knew they had hopped on the T [the Boston subway] to meet me at the finish, and the first thing I thought was that they were right in the middle of the explosions.”
“We saw her around 2:30 at the 24-mile mark, and from there took the T to the finish line,” said Maria Petrone, Natalie’s mother. “We overheard someone on the phone speaking to her daughter, saying there was an explosion. When we got off the T, an officer confirmed the story, but didn’t give us any other information.”
After exiting the subway just 10 minutes after the explosions, Maria and her husband, Joseph, tried calling their daughter. Luckily, the call went through.