NEWS NEWS AND MORE NEWS I am going to get all of my memories down, before I forget what I remember!. . . . quote from Stanley Forman

21Apr/133

Marathon Memories

My Press Pass, 2013

Going to the Boston Marathon is like going to Dis­ney. Every­one is smil­ing and laugh­ing except maybe the run­ners till they cool down. I am not going to let the sad events sur­round­ing the 117th run­ning of the Boston Marathon take away from the won­der­ful mem­o­ries I have of cov­er­ing it since 1967.

At the Boston Record Amer­i­can it was huge. There were a lot of pho­tog­ra­phers assigned. In 1967 women were not allowed to run, nor was there a wheelchair-sanctioned race. The crowds and amount of run­ners paled to what it has become today.

We cov­ered the begin­ning, the Welles­ley Col­lege coeds at their water tables, Heart­break Hill in New­ton, the fin­ish line and the med­ical tent.  One pho­tog­ra­pher was assigned to the photographer’s truck, which was usu­ally a beat up flat bed truck. At least once the pho­tog­ra­phers had to get off the truck and push it out of the way. Many run­ners com­plained about the fumes from the truck. I never got that assignment.

Back then the Pru­den­tial Insur­ance was the spon­sor so the race ended on the strip in front of the Pru­den­tial Tower. As the race would come down Com­mon­wealth Avenue the run­ners would take the right on Glouces­ter Street and the truck would go straight down Com­mon­wealth Avenue.  At the fin­ish line there were sev­eral pho­tog­ra­phers. A Boston motor­cy­cle cop, Gene Lee, a great ath­lete him­self would be assigned to grab our film of the fin­ish and race it to our office in down­town Boston. Page One would be a photo of the win­ner. I worked the lab for my first Marathon.

The wire ser­vices set up a dark­room in a school right near the start of the race, which always began at noon. They would have a photo on the wires within ten min­utes for the after­noon papers.  I worked the lab for my first race. Kather­ine Switzer a col­lege stu­dent reg­is­tered for the race as K.V. Switzer and got a num­ber. When Jock Sem­ple a BAA race offi­cial saw K.V. was a woman he jumped into the start of the race and tried to wres­tle her out. Ms. Switzer had put her hair up to dis­guise her­self. Other run­ners blocked Sem­ple from throw­ing her out. Don Robin­son of UPI was the only pho­tog­ra­pher to get the shots. That caused quite a bit of grief for our pho­tog­ra­pher who was on the truck. Back then we did it our­selves. It was not a good thing to see a credit, which read AP or UPI photo. It would be five more years before woman were sanc­tioned.       

My first out­side cov­er­age was in 1968. I was assigned to the start­ing line. I was given a Polaroid Cam­era, a steplad­der, one of the wire ser­vices portable trans­mit­ters and instructed to find some­one who would let me use their home phone to trans­mit the start of the race. I would only have one chance to get the photo, as Polaroid’s were not fast. I did get it and it was Page One.

Late 60s, me help­ing one of the run­ners get set for a self por­trait. Note, I was
taller, thin­ner and had hair.

I also had to get some fea­ture pho­tos of run­ners and bring back some sto­ries to go with the pho­tos. It was a lot of fun. I helped peo­ple tak­ing pho­tos of each other some­times grab­bing their cam­eras to take the pho­tos so both the shooter and sub­ject could be together. One year I met this cou­ple, both UMass Amherst stu­dents who were going to run the race together. They told me they were insep­a­ra­ble. Within a year of the race they would be killed in a car crash. Although they were not mar­ried they were buried together. Because of my pho­tos we cov­ered the story.

Rac­ing down to the wire, slip­pery day in front of the Pru­den­tial Tower.

I cov­ered the fin­ish many times. There was no yel­low tape and I could roam wher­ever I wanted. I was at the fin­ish line when the first wheel­chair race was sanc­tioned. I had a shot of two run­ners rac­ing for the 3rd & 4th posi­tion with one of them falling before he crossed the line.

Patty Lyons Cata­lano with her sis­ters after the finish.

Patty Lyons Cata­lano, a local favorite who every­one thought would win the Boston Marathon in 1981 was beaten by Ali­son Roe. It was unex­pected. I was at the fin­ish line when Patty was greeted by her sis­ters and the dis­ap­point­ment of not win­ning the race.

In 1982 I went into TV. The Boston Marathon was a huge event back then. We arrived in Hop­kin­ton around 6:am the Sun­day before the Mon­day race with thou­sands of feet of cable. It was at least a 12-hour day with many cam­eras being set up. We would be live through the early morn­ing show on Mon­day, then the start and through­out the race. The only time I got in front of the run­ners is when I rode shot­gun while John Premack ran the cam­era for live cov­er­age of the race from a small pickup truck.

There were some funny times. Bill Rodgers a local race favorite would win the race four times. I went to his Mel­rose home one race morn­ing then fol­lowed him to Hop­kin­ton. There was a crew from Japan doing the same thing. We were dri­ving west on the Mass Pike when the Japan­ese crew decided to pull up along side the Rodgers’ car to get shots, only prob­lem Rodger’s car got off the ramp at Route 495 and they ended up going fur­ther west miss­ing the exit. It was a very funny moment.

Johnny Kelly the elder who won the race twice and fin­ished sec­ond seven times ran his 61st and last race in 1992. I was almost home when the phone rang. Joe Roche on the assign­ment desk for Chan­nel Five real­ized at 630:pm we had no one at the fin­ish line for Johnny Kelly. I raced back and got Johnny fin­ish­ing the race and col­laps­ing into his wife’s arms.

Women and wheel­chairs all became part of the Boston Marathon. Photo from my still days.

After many years of cov­er­age I got some senior­ity and took the April school vaca­tion week off to spend time with my fam­ily. It meant not cov­er­ing the race but being able to watch it. We went to New­ton, at the begin­ning of Heart Break Hill where a very fes­tive group was watching.

Wheel­chair win­ner, late 70s.

Forty six years after my first Marathon, April 15, 2013 it all changed. I was sit­ting at the South Bay Mall at 2:50pm when I heard a Boston Police Offi­cer scream­ing for mul­ti­ple ambu­lances to Boyl­ston Street he had 40–50 peo­ple injured.

At first I thought he said 71 Boyl­ston Street which is down by the Boston Com­mon. I fig­ured a mov­ing vehi­cle hit the peo­ple. Then it changed to 671 Boyl­ston Street and I knew it was some­thing to do with the Marathon, but I still thought a vehi­cle had struck the people.

Then it hap­pened, some­one said on one of the chan­nels I was lis­ten­ing to it was an explo­sion, a bomb went off. I was yelling into the two-way radio to the sta­tion and try­ing to get around traf­fic through the South End of Boston to the explo­sion area. I got lucky and got behind some fire com­mand cars and police cruis­ers. I shut the radios off, as I only wanted to con­cen­trate on get­ting there safely. I knew we had crews at the med­ical tent. I fig­ured we would be all set where the explo­sion took place.

I tried to park where I could see the top of the Pru­den­tial Tower where one of our receive sites for microwave was anchored. I knew I might have to feed tape or go live with my vehi­cle. When I finally parked on the island in the mid­dle of Hunt­ing­ton Avenue I was very excited. I opened the trunk area to get my equip­ment out, had to change mic bat­ter­ies as I for­got to shut it off the last time I used it and con­tin­ued to shake. I knew my daugh­ter Han­nah was in Boston, but I also knew she should not be in this area.

Then my cell phone rang, it was Han­nah and I lost it. I screamed at her “get the fuck out of the City,” and I said it sev­eral times. I was so happy to hear her voice.

I got my shit together and started to shoot video. Many were cry­ing, scared and won­der­ing what to do as the police were urg­ing them to keep mov­ing and get out of the area. I talked to some eye­wit­nesses, got video of lots of peo­ple hug­ging and cry­ing. I got a shot of one injured runner.

I was never able to get into the explo­sion area. The police shut it down very quickly. I stayed on Hunt­ing­ton Avenue till 8:pm. I heard a call the police were going to a high-rise apart­ment build­ing two streets form Revere Beach. There were sev­eral police depart­ments there includ­ing, FBI, ATF, MSP, Home­land Secu­rity. They were there because at the Brigham & Woman’s Hos­pi­tal there was an injured man who became a per­son of inter­est. He lives in this build­ing. Finally after 11:pm the inves­ti­ga­tors left and I got to go home.  At 2:30am the phone rang and I was asked to go back to Revere. There were some Tweets the inves­ti­ga­tion was con­tin­u­ing. I drove back, looked around, noth­ing and went home. I got another hour of sleep and went back to work.

Part of the makeshift memo­r­ial in Cop­ley Square. This is where the med­ical tent was for the race. Most of the injured were treated within 100 feet of the memorial.

Two days after the blast, on Wednes­day,  Jack Harper and I inter­viewed one of the “heroes” of the blast Tracy Munroe. She tear­fully told us how she and her fam­ily left the area right after the blast. Then she knew she had to go back to help and ran back. She saw the Richards’ fam­ily. Mar­tin Richards an eight year old was dead at the scene. She picked up his six year old sis­ter, Jane and held her in her arms. She asked her name, said com­fort­ing words and held her until med­ical peo­ple came to help her.  Jane lost one of her legs and her mother has a severe brain injury from the blast.

As Jack and I lis­tened we both became teary eyed. After the inter­view I told her she reminded me of the teacher from New­town, Kaitlin Roid who told her stu­dents as she hid them and lis­tened to the gun­shots, “I need you to know that I love you all very much, I thought that was the last thing they were ever going to hear. I thought we were all going to die.”  She said she did not want the last sounds they heard to be gunfire.

Thurs­day after the explo­sion was calm until after ten that night. I received a call say­ing a police offi­cer had been shot near MIT. I called it in and tried to go back to sleep. Just after 1:am, Nancy Bent on the desk called to get me going yelling cops are being shot at, bombs are being thrown and one of the sus­pects was dead.

I raced to Water­town where I would spend the next 16 hours. There were thou­sands of cops rac­ing around from one lead to the next. The area was pretty much shut down and with all the vehi­cles rac­ing around I decided to pull over so I would not get hit by one of them.

Around 4:pm my eyes were start­ing to close and I went home. My wife Deb­bie woke me up when the announce­ment came the sec­ond sus­pect was trapped in a boat in someone’s back­yard. We watched until the press con­fer­ence and the offi­cial announce­ment he had been cap­tured and trans­ferred to the hospital.

Med­ford City Hall is draped with a 45/90 foot flag as the City pays their respects to Marathon Blast vic­tim Krystie Camp­bell, whose funeral was held on April, 22, 2013.

As a pro­fes­sional newsper­son I am dis­ap­pointed I did not get any com­pelling video but happy to have been a part of the cov­er­age. I sat out New­town and the Bliz­zard of 2013, due to an injury. I am glad I got to cover this awful event.

Memento from the April 24, 2013, very mov­ing memo­r­ial at MIT for their police offi­cer Sean Collier.

I am proud to say I work for the best local tele­vi­sion sta­tion in the Coun­try, WCVB-TV. We have a great team who worked many days and long hours together dur­ing this tragic event. We shared our grief and anx­i­ety. Only WBZ-TV con­tin­ues to cover the Boston Marathon locally. Sev­eral years ago it was decided not to cover the race live. From a busi­ness stand point it did not work any­more. It will be inter­est­ing to see what the sta­tions and net­works do next year.

Here is a link to com­pelling audio of the first 20 min­utes after the explo­sion. The com­mand­ing office Yan­kee C2 is Dan Lin­sky of the Boston Police Depart­ment. Notice how calm and orga­nized he is.

http://www.lawofficer.com/video/news/police-audio-boston-marathon-e

Here is the link to Diane Sawyer’s inter­view with Kaitlin Roig a cou­ple of months after New­town.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/newtown-teacher-mission/story?id=18864583#.UXXQXL-IIip