Nairobi, April 19 (IANS) Two Kenyan participants of the 117th Boston Marathon returned home, relieved at having escaped the two bomb explosions that overshadowed their achievements.
Women’s titleholder Rita Jeptoo and men’s runner-up Micah Kogo arrived in Nairobi Wednesday night, scarred by the attacks that claimed three lives and left 180 injured, reports Xinhua.
“I was the last athlete with the media at the finish line and I had just walked to the steps of the hotel when the explosion happened. At first I did not know what was wrong and moments later, I was being pulled by security, told there was a problem outside,” Jeptoo, who won her second Boston crown in 2:26:25 Monday, recalled.
After embellishing his ultimate distance debut by hanging on to the coattails of Ethiopian pair Lelisa Desisa and Gebre Gebremarriam to finish second, Kogo was fulfilling his doping control obligations when the explosions happened.
“I tried to calm down because I was on the safe side inside the hotel and after sometime, we saw the news and because we were only ten metres from the scene, we looked down from the window and saw people screaming, lying down flat on the ground, it was bad,” said the athlete who clocked 2:10:27.
The former world 10km record holder added: “I still do not know why they did this? What were they planning to achieve? Who are these guys who would place a bomb in a huge crowd?
“They should have come to cheer instead; so many people were along the route happy and cheering for us.”
Kogo, who won the 10,000m Olympics bronze in Beijing, also spoke of the panic his family was in back home as the news of the devastating attack broke.
“They were trying to call me at the same time and I was telling them we were okay until the phones went off. Later, we were told it was because of security but it was very chaotic and I thank god that I came out of it alive,” he said.
Both elite runners who are now in the frame to represent their nation at the Moscow World Championships in August agreed that although the attacks had blemished their achievements, they would not quit the sport.
“Next year, if I’m in shape, I will return to Boston to defend my title since we can’t stop because this happened. It was an incident that is now passed and I’m sure organisers will work on preventing it from ever happening again,” the women’s champion stressed.