UNM student Chris Peverada was halfway through eating a crab roll after running in the Boston Marathon when he heard two loud explosions near the restaurant he was sitting in.
Peverada, a doctoral student in linguistics, was eating with his family in a mall a few blocks from the finish line, and he said people immediately started running and screaming after the explosions.
“There were a couple bangs, and the people in the hallways of the mall were all running around, panicking,” Peverada said. “A lot of people from the restaurant got up and ran off without paying, but my dad’s pretty honest, so he paid.”
Peverada and his family were evacuated from the building and heard from a nearby crossing guard that the explosions were probably bombs.
“It’s weird, I’ve only ever seen that type of thing on TV, I’ve never been that close to it,” Peverada said. “It still kind of feels like it wasn’t that big just because I was there. It was hard while I was there to realize that people all over the world were hearing about this. It was a pretty big deal.”
As rumors flew, Peverada jumped on a nearby subway train, where a man told him 10 people were already dead. In reality, three people were killed in the blast. Peverada wasn’t able to exit the train near the finish line, so he walked almost two miles back to his hotel, and flew out of Logan International Airport the next morning, where an FBI agent questioned him.
“At the point where you have to give them your boarding pass and your ID, they asked a few questions related to ‘What were you here for and where are you going?’” he said. “I told them I was in the marathon, and they asked if I had finished and if I had seen anything suspicious.”
Shawna Winnegar, a senior majoring in exercise science and a runner for UNM, said her dad and a few friends ran the marathon.
It was her dad’s first time running in the Boston Marathon, and it was supposed to be his last after running marathons for almost 10 years.
“As a human to hear about something like that, not even as a runner, it’s just unimaginable,” Winnegar said. “Especially for people like my dad, who this was going to be his last marathon and it was supposed to be such a great experience, it’s the Boston Marathon. So it was really sad, I get choked up every time I think about because it’s just so awful.”
She said her dad dropped out at the seven-mile mark due to a foot injury, and she said he tried to sneak out of the medical tent, but was thwarted by the doctor. If he had continued to run, he could have finished around the time of explosions.
She said that after he heard about the explosions, her dad decided he would run another marathon because he didn’t want his running career to end in such a way.
“I’m sad for my dad that he had to experience that, but I think everyone’s experiencing the same thing,” Winnegar said. “It really makes you think about ‘Well what if my dad was there?’ and I think most people are probably thinking that, and hopefully telling their loved ones that they love them.”
Mark Scherbarth, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering, ran the marathon in two hours and 48 minutes, and was walking down Commonwealth Avenue when he heard the explosions.
“I worked down in Kirtland Air Force base and I was like ‘You know, the only time I hear sounds like that is when the Department of Energy is detonating stuff on the outskirts of base,’” Scherbarth said.
He said he is grateful his kids and wife didn’t join him because they could have been in danger, but the attacks aren’t deterring him from running again next year.
“Just making one different turn or going down one different street, things could be completely changed,” Scherbarth said. “I plan to come back and run it next year, it will probably be the safest race in the United States next year.”