A Kentucky athlete running her first Boston Marathon could have lost her entire, 21-member family in the April 15 bombing after they spent all day near the finish line to cheer her on, leaving only three minutes before the blasts.
“All day, they were literally 25 feet, if that far, from where the bomb exploded,” Amy Compston told the Gazette the day after the attack. “I could have lost potentially my entire family that day.”
Compston, a 28-year-old nurse from Ashland, Ky., and her family stayed in Jamaica Plain during the race week. She 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.
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 stayed in a rental house on Centre Street in JP.
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.
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 [sites] 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.
Her family also encountered a bizarre, masked man and reported him to police as a possible bombing suspect. But it seems he was just one of Boston’s odd characters.
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.” Her family handed out Bible tracts on the marathon route. 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 asked 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 also motivated the family to enjoy Boston as much as they could 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.”
The day after the bombing, 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!’”