In a phone interview Monday afternoon, BJ Schaknowski said he ran his third Boston Marathon in four years.
"I finished almost two hours before the first bomb went off, so we when got done in Copley Square, my best friend, who lives in Cape Cod, picked me up,” Schaknowski said. “I went back to my hotel in the financial district, got a quick shower and we were having a late lunch in the bar when everyone broke in and said, 'Did you hear about the bombings at the finish line?' It's been what I would call relative anarchy ever since.”
He said the moments after the bombing were chaotic.
“Everyone's coming in having heard different stories,” Schaknowski said. “Every news station seems to have a different account of what's taking place. It's a little bit of have you heard? What's really the truth? People are still walking around. We're about 20 to 25 minutes away. The financial district is a little bit further west of Copley. It's crazy.
"I usually stay in the [Fairmont] Hotel, [near] where one of the bombings took place, which is a little freaky. ... That makes it a little surreal for me personally, but down in the financial district, the streets are pretty empty, not a lot of traffic. Bars and restaurants are still open. A lot of people are just trying to continue on as if nothing has happened to a degree, but certainly the tone is much more subdued than on a typical [Boston] Marathon Monday.”
Schaknowski was swamped with messages from family and friends after the bombs went off.
"I've gotten a couple of hundred Facebook notes, about 40 texts, about 50 calls, a couple dozen emails, and most of my network knows I'm a runner and have been doing [the] Boston [Marathon] a few years, so I've been inundated to say the least,” he said.
Schaknowski was asked if Monday’s bombings will change marathons in the future.
"You know, I hope not but it's somewhat inevitable,” he said. “The security is going to be heightened, particularly the major [marathons]. Chicago and New York are going to be beefed up. If you look at the other big ones like Houston and L.A., you're bound to see more security now
“What's scary about this is, where this happened, there was a police officer every five feet. The finish line, it's gated off. It's cops every couple feet. There are thousands of Boston police officials that man this marathon. I can't imagine there being more police protection or security than they have here. With this happening, it's going to just create a paranoia in the community. It's probably unfounded, but what else will people do in situations like this?
Schaknowski was asked if the attacks will impact the way he runs.
“No. Random acts of madness are something that happens. If it happens to you, it happens to you,” he said. “I'm not going to hole up in my house and be a hermit. If it's meant to be, it's meant to be, and if it's not, it's not. It certainly will have no impact on me. I'm a prior service Marine. I've seen worse than this. ... You can't let these people get to you. It's the entire intent behind these things."
- Staff Writer Jon Gillooly contributed to this report.