Cordts escapes dangers in Boston
By CHUCK CLEMENT, Staff Reporter
Brad Cordts considers himself doubly fortunate Tuesday (today) after walking away from the Boston Marathon explosion because circumstances and fate kept him and his wife away from the disaster when they could have wound up in the middle of it.|
Cordts, a Memphis attorney, was running in his 19th Boston Marathon and about a 1/2-mile away from the finish line when the two bombs detonated on Monday afternoon. As an experienced marathon runner, Cordts judges that if he wasn't slowed by leg cramps during the last miles of the long-distance run, he might have walked into the middle of a life-threatening disaster.
According to Cordts, the leg cramps started slowing him down at the 22-mile mark of the 26.2-mile run, and he was about 15 minutes behind where he would've been if his legs hadn't acted up.
"I normally would have been coming in at the finish when (the bombs) went off," he said.
Cordts said that about 26,000 marathoners signed up for the 2013 race in Boston. The marathon's organizers set up the runners into three smaller groups, and Cordts was among about 9,000 marathoners during his trek through the city and its suburbs. Within that group, Cordts was keeping pace with a group of about 40 runners, coming down Commonwealth Ave. toward the finish.
When the bombs exploded, Cordts didn't hear the explosions because he was too preoccupied trying to push his body to complete the run. One of his marathon companions thought he heard the blasts.
"I was out of it basically," Cordts said of his awareness to the surroundings.
Originally, the persons who heard the explosions but weren't able to see the damage thought the blasts were caused by less-sinister means, such as a natural-gas line explosion. Then for the first time among his experiences at the Boston Marathon, Cordts said the police halted the event. A patrol car came up to his group near the intersection of Commonwealth and Massachusetts avenues and blocked the street.
"I was probably among the first wave that they stopped," Cordts said.
According to Cordts, the marathoners en route to the finish line had little information about what had occurred and no cell phones were working, probably due to a call overload. And while it was a mild spring day, Cordts said the lightly-clothed runners started getting the chills as they started to cool down and dehydration affected their bodies.
"No one's cell phone was working, but the worst part was that you just didn't know what was going on," Cordts said.
After about an hour, Cordts and the other marathoners were told that the competition was finished and all of the runners were supposed to end their runs. His group walked about 1 1/2 miles from their stop site, bypassing the location where the bombs detonated, and boarded the buses that were transporting their belongings to the finish site.
Cordts currently lives in Tennessee with his wife Christine. He graduated from Madison High School in 1982 and from South Dakota State University in 1986, participating in the track and field programs for both schools. His parents, Jim and Caroll, currently live in Madison.
Caroll said Tuesday that the situation was tense for the family, as their daughter-in-law had first called and said, "`We can't find Brad'." Thankfully, they later learned that their son was OK.
Before the explosions, Cordts described the day in Boston as beautiful, partly cloudy and a perfect marathon temperature at 51 degrees. The Boston Marathon is scheduled during a Massachusetts state holiday called Patriots Day, and the race coincides with a Red Sox game and other historical re-enactments in Boston during the three-day holiday. Cordts said the marathon is the second-most watched event next to the Super Bowl.
"This is the premiere event for the city," Cordts said. "The streets are lined with people who are cheering you on. Along the route, you're never far from a crowd."
According to Cordts, the location at the finish line where the bombs exploded would have had spectators 15 persons deep on both sides of the avenue.
Cordts was also grateful that his wife wasn't in Boston watching the marathon as she had for more than a dozen races before Monday. Christine Cordts had recently started a new job and she didn't have the vacation time to stay in Boston and watch her husband finish his run. Normally, Christine would have performed cheerleading duties for him on marathon day and she would have waited at the finish line near the Boston Public Library. Instead, she returned to Memphis early.
"For 15 years, that would have been where she would have sat waiting for me," Cordts said. "So many people wait there for the finish that she would have gone there hours early to find a good spot."
On Tuesday, Cordts said parts of Boston were still shut down after the bomb attack. Instead of visiting the city, he waited in his motel room before going to the airport to fly back to Memphis.