Kentucky runner, 21 family members narrowly escape bomb

April 16, 2013
By

A Kentucky athlete running her first Boston Marathon could have lost her entire, 21-member family in yesterday’s bombing after they spent all day near the finish line to cheer her on, leaving only three minutes before the blasts.

Amy Compston told the Gazette that some members of her family–who, along with her, are staying at a Jamaica Plain house–also saw a bizarre masked man in the bombing area and later reported him to police as a potential suspect.

“All day, they were literally 25 feet, if that far, from where the bomb exploded,” Compston told the Gazette. “I could have lost potentially my entire family that day.”

Compston, a 28-year-old nurse from Ashland, Ky., said she had finished the race about 22 minutes before the bombs went off and considered what might have happened to her if her pace had been a little different.

The bizarre man seen by family members near the finish-line bombing area was dressed head to toe in green, including bright green nylon covering his face. He also was wearing a vulgar sign reading, “Run, bitch.” The man hung out in the area for a long period. At one point, a member of Compston’s deeply religious family handed him a Bible tract that mentioned guns. The man replied, “Isn’t that a coincidence?” and ripped up the tract, she said.

Compston chronicled her Boston Marathon training in a diary published weekly by her hometown newspaper, The Independent. The feature drew lots of support and prayers from readers, she said.

“I didn’t realize how important those prayers would be,” she said.

She and her entire family–including husband Chris, their four children, parents, step-parents, siblings and others–made their first-ever trip to Boston together for the marathon. They have been staying in a rental house on Centre Street in JP.

While Compston ran, her family members gathered near the Boylston Street finish line at 6:30 a.m. to make sure they would get a good spot to see her finish.

“They were there all day, between the two bombs all day,” Compston said, adding that her husband joined her shortly after her finish, while the rest of the family left only minutes before the blasts. They heard the explosions while walking down an alley, she said.

Compston said she was already disoriented after running the marathon and the immediate concern was making sure all of the family members were safe and together again for the Orange Line ride back to JP.

“It hit me on the train. I was crying on the way home,” she said.

“It’s such an emotional day anyway,” she added. “I couldn’t believe I was at the Boston Marathon, and now I can’t believe I was at the Boston Marathon where there was a terrorist attack or whatever it was.”

Compston is deeply religious, explaining, “All my running is faith-based.” The same faith that helped motivate her through the grueling marathon training is now helping her and her family cope with the horrific event, she said.

“I can just see how everything played out with God watching over,” she said, crediting God with protecting her and her family.

Her children are asking questions about why the bombing happened, and she said she tells them there is no explanation. “It’s just evil, pure evil,” she said.

Faith is also motivating the family to enjoy Boston as much as they can despite the attack.

“We all have very strong faith, so we don’t fear. Fear’s from the devil,” she said. “It’s all God’s will, whatever happens.”

Today, they took a tour of the city they had booked long ago. It was “very surreal” due to SWAT teams and soldiers on every corner, she said, but the family otherwise liked what they saw of the city.

“We loved it. We still love it,” Compston said of Boston. “We’ve had the most awesome time here. We went to Fenway the other day, and walked the Freedom Trail.”

She also is determined to run in next year’s Boston Marathon after her 3-hour-27-minute finish time–a personal best–qualified her to join.

“My husband said to me, ‘You know you’re going to have to run next year for all those victims and their families,’” Compston said. “And I said, ‘Well, yeah!’”

Kentucky runner Amy Compston (center) waves on Boylston Street as she nears the Boston Marathon finish line April 15, about 22 minutes before the bombs exploded in a photo taken by a family member. (Photo Courtesy Traci Vazquez)

Kentucky runner Amy Compston (center) waves on Boylston Street as she nears the Boston Marathon finish line April 15, about 22 minutes before the bombs exploded in a photo taken by a family member. (Photo Courtesy Traci Vazquez)

Boston Marathon runner Amy Compston (rear, third from right) and the 21 family members who traveled with her pose during their JP stay. (Photo Courtesy Traci Vazquez)

Boston Marathon runner Amy Compston (rear, third from right) and the 21 family members who traveled with her pose during their JP stay. (Photo Courtesy Traci Vazquez)