Robert Speck. Photo by Joe L. Fisher, Black American Political Action Committee.
By Kia Croom
Richmond business owner Robert Speck narrowly escaped the deadly explosions at the Boston Marathon.
He finished the race in 3 hours, 9 minutes – before the first explosion went off at the finish line.
“Although I finished one hour before the first explosion, my friend finished 19 minutes before. I would normally wait at the finish line for her, but we had an evening flight, so I hurried to the hotel. Our hotel was just three blocks from the marathon.”
Speck says he and his friend heard a loud noise that sounded like a huge sign had fallen. But by then they both were safely at their hotel.
“On the way to the airport, we figured out what had taken place. We noticed smoke and saw people looking at nearby T.V. monitors. When we got to the airport, Homeland Security was there with weapons,” he said.
Speck says he is very saddened by the devastating course of events. Prior to the bombings, he described a scene in which exuberant crowds celebrated the runners, tailgating and sharing refreshments with them as they passed by.
All that changed in a few minutes.
“Bostonians were visibly sad and angry. To think that someone would want to torment and inflict pain on so many innocent people is saddening. I did not get a good night’s sleep until the last guy was captured,” he said.
Speck was among 27,000 runners. He noticed authorities accompanied by bomb-sniffing dogs prior to the start of the event. No explanation was given to runners or those who attended.
“It makes you wonder, did the authorities anticipate something like this happening? Had there been any threats?” he asked.
Speck, who has participated in the marathon for the last four years, anticipates running again in the Boston race.
“I will run next year, there is nothing going to intimidate me. I am going. It’s a major goal for many runners to qualify, as the times are pretty tough to beat. One out of 100 runners qualify for the Boston Marathon,” he said.
Speck says he runs an average of five to six marathons per year including the Napa Marathon, where he first qualified for the Boston Marathon, three years ago with a finish time of three hours, 11minutes.
He believes the explosions will affect future races in Boston and other places. “The race will never be the same. There will obviously need to be more security measures, not just a Boston, but any of the high profile races that have an international presence,” he said.
Speck is the owner of the Central Richmond Pharmacy, which has been in business for more than 30 years. He says he is proud to work in Richmond and to be able to serve such a great community.