In many cases, having a front-row seat to history in the making can be seen as a good thing.
But history is as full of tragedy as triumph, and a Headingley man found himself at the heart of a far-reaching tragedy in Boston, Mass. last month.
Tim Turner was happy to have completed his second Boston Marathon on April 15, despite being hampered by shin splints.
"The Boston Marathon is like no other race that I have run. The Boston Athletic Association organizers, spectators and volunteers are phenomenal," he said.
The first year he’d attempted the event, hot weather slowed him down. "I figured that I’d take it easier this time," he said, and managed to beat his previous time on the 26.2 mile course.
He was in the family area waiting for his wife, Ramona, when the two bombs exploded about 2:50 p.m. The area was about two blocks from where the bombs exploded, but the noise was very loud.
There was a construction site nearby and Turner initially thought the explosions might have come from that location.
"I wasn’t really sure what was going on," he said.
However, he soon realized something serious had happened as police and emergency workers rushed toward the explosions.
Ramona had watched the race from a spot along the course, and was on her way to meet Turner. Cellphone service was disrupted, and for about two hours he and Ramona didn’t know where the other one was until they met at their hotel.
Turner, 45, belongs to The Forks Marathon group in Winnipeg, and was participating in the Boston Marathon with five group members. Most were accompanied by their spouses.
None of his running group members were injured, but one had just crossed the finish line and another was prevented from completing the race with just the final mile to go.
"When the twin bombs went off it was life-changing for so many in a multitude of ways. But the human spirit again kicked in, in a different way, with strangers helping strangers," Turner said, reflecting on the experience.
"From the EMS, firefighters, and police officers to the doctors, nurses and even fellow marathoners that gave without regard to their own safety to help with the wounded. Boston came together to fight back (against) terrorism."
While returning to Winnipeg the next day, the Turners heard about the five kilometre run in Assiniboine Park organized to honour those killed and injured by the bombs. Ramona, who is also a runner, took part while Tim’s exhaustion and leg injuries prevented him from completing the run.
Turner grew up in Headingley and returned to the community with his family in 2005. He’s committed to an active lifestyle and added running to his exercise regime in 2009.
This year’s Boston Marathon was his 10th marathon, and he and Ramona plan to enter the Chicago Marathon in the fall.
"I, like I’m sure many other Canadians, will never fully understand the motive of the (bombers). But I am going to continue to live life to the fullest and hope to run Boston again in 2014 to fight terrorism, by again celebrating the human spirit and enjoying the day with thousands of other runners and spectators," Turner said.