CSU’s Milton Brown finishes Boston Marathon minutes before explosions

The day marked a 30-year anniversary for Milton Brown, a CSU Facilities Management civil engineering project manager.

Brown ran the Boston Marathon 30 years ago when he was a student at CSU. He was looking forward to going back and taking part in the celebrations and Boston tradition.

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“Overall, it was a great experience. It went from an amazing day of celebration and fun to a very somber attitude after the bombs went off,” Brown said, adding that the city was fantastic and he and his wife were treated well.

He went back and looked through photos of the race and discovered that he crossed the finish line at 3:55:36. The first bomb that killed three people and injured more than 250 people went off at 4:09:43.

He was about a block away from the finish line at the time of explosions in the area where water and blankets were provided for the runners after they crossed the finish line.

“From where I was, I felt the ground shake and the percussion come down (Boylston) street,” Brown said. “It was evident that something big happened.”

Brown said everyone around him was asking what happened. People were wondering whether a cannon went off or something else besides a bomb. About 10 seconds later, the second bomb exploded and Brown said the mood changed. He said that, instinctively, he thought it was a bomb.

Brown said he felt fear and anxiousness to get to his wife, who was about two blocks south waiting to connect with him.

“We needed to get out and find out what was going on,” Brown said.

Once Brown and his wife connected, he said they walked about 10 blocks east of the finish line to a little shop. Several people who had already crossed the finish line were there, as well as people just trying to connect with each other, according to Brown. He said an MIT student was there with a laptop so he was able to pull up real-time information. The student confirmed for Brown that it was a bomb that caused the explosion, that people were killed and others lost limbs.

“Another runner sat with us who was crossing the finish line when the bombs went off,” Brown said. “He was in shock.”

The cell phone service was shut off and the subways were closed, according to Brown, so he and his wife walked two miles to their hotel to watch the news and return phone calls to worried family members.

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“We’re thankful we weren’t injured,” Brown said. “Our hearts go out to the families (who) lost loved ones and to people severely injured that have a long road ahead of them.”

Despite the tragedy, Brown said it’s on his bucket list to run it again. “I would love to run next year, but it takes a lot of effort and training, so it’s several years down the road.”

Brown said he has no doubt Boston will do everything to make the race happen next year and be safe for everyone.

“We had a lot to process. You never expect to be involved or close to something that would be life threatening,” Brown said. “We’re thoughtful and prayerful, we wish all those injured out best.”

Senior Reporter Corrie Sahling can be reached at news@collegian.com.