A Liverpool FC fan who ran the Boston Marathon in memory of the 96 Hillsborough victims has told JMU Journalism about his “absolute horror” when two bomb explosions went off at the finish line.
The explosions were set off within minutes of each other, killing three people – including an eight-year-old boy - just two hours after the first racers crossed the finish line.
The terrifying events also left more than 150 people injured, some seriously. A third explosion went off five miles away at the JFK library.
For many, April 15th 2013 was already a poignant reminder of tragedy as it was the 24th anniversary of the Hillsborough stadium disaster and for one Liverpool fan, Adrian Zambrano, the Boston Marathon was a chance to pay his respects to the 96 – but his dream turned into a nightmare.
Zambrano, a dedicated Reds supporter from Monterrey, Mexico was running on behalf of those affected by the Hillsborough disaster and the 37-year-old aircraft broker had finished the marathon just 20 minutes before the first blast.
He even had a photograph taken clutching a Liverpool shirt at the site of the first explosion.
Adrian told JMU Journalism: “I am a huge Liverpool fan, and I run the marathon every year. As soon as I saw the date the marathon was on this year I knew I had to run it in memory of the 96. I felt like it was meant to be.”
He sustained an injury just a month and a half before the event and Zambrano was worried he may not be able to run at all. However, once he completed the marathon with his second best time he was overjoyed.
“Having completed the marathon in such a good time, I was overjoyed. It was a dream come true,” he said. “For a runner, the Boston Marathon is the equivalent of performing at Wembley.
“Afterwards, though it was awful. It didn’t sink in at first, but any joy I felt about completing it was quickly overshadowed by the monstrosity of what had happened that day,” he told JMU Journalism.
After running 26 miles, Zambrano was still in the vicinity of the finishing line at the time of the explosions. Although he and his friends and family were uninjured, the act of terrorism has put things in sharp perspective for him.
He said: “I was about 300 metres away from the blast, and the day before I bought my trainers right where it went off. It could so easily have been a completely different day. Now it’s sunk in I am thankful to be alive.
“Everyone there acted as though their closest friends had been injured; they didn’t fear that there was a second blast, they didn’t have a second thought for their own safety… they were just brave enough to help other people.
“The ambulances were straight onto the scene, quicker than you could imagine. They couldn’t have been more helpful,” he added.
As phonelines were busy, Adrian let his family know he was safe and well by tweeting: “Thank you all for your messages and encouragement. I’m well and safe. This is one thing I will never understand. How is this possible?”
Mayor Joe Anderson sent his support on behalf of Liverpool, tweeting: “To the people of Boston, the City of Liverpool is thinking of you at this traumatic and sad time. Have friends there, hope all okay.”
US President Barack Obama condemned the bombings as a “terrorist act”, adding: “The American people refuse to be terrorised.”
The FBI is investigating but no arrests have yet been made.