Students, faculty react to Boston Marathon tragedy

AP Photo/The Boston Globe, John Tlumacki Bill Iffrig, 78, lies on the ground as police officers react to a second explosion at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston on Monday. Iffrig, of Lake Stevens, Wash., was running his third Boston Marathon and near the finish line when he was knocked down by one of two bomb blasts.

Tamar Gaffin-Cahn grew up cheering on the runners of the Boston Marathon as they began the drive up Heartbreak Hill, the hardest part of the race. She remembers sitting and eating ice cream with her grandparents as the runners passed through her hometown, and her family even hosted an Ethiopian runner who came to Boston to beat his own record.

The bombings at this year’s marathon took place a block from where Gaffin-Cahn had her high school prom.

Thankfully, her family and friends are safe, but her cousin was at the spot where the bombs went off and left just 20 minutes earlier to get snacks with a friend.

“The phones were down for a bit, making it scarier not to be in contact with friends and family at home,” said Gaffin-Cahn, a junior majoring in international social change. “Everyone is safe, thank God.”

Gaffin-Cahn said she was inspired by the emergency responders who came to the scene and “didn’t stop helping.”

“What gives me hope is the strength of the Boston community. No one can mess with a Masshole, as people call us,” Gaffin-Cahn said. “I have always been proud to be from Boston, and will always be proud. I love that dirty water.”

One month ago, Edward Cody still hadn’t decided if he was running in the 2013 Boston marathon.

He ran it 2012, but a lingering injury kept Cody from training properly for this year’s race, and in the end he decided to sit it out.

Cody probably would have completed his race well before the bombs went off near the finish line about four hours in, he said, most likely keeping him out of harm’s way. But he said his family, who would have been in the stands cheering him on, could have been caught in the carnage.

“Those kinds of thoughts definitely came back to me, like, ‘Oh wow, thank goodness we weren’t all there,’” he said.

Sophomore Noga Rogel grew up just outside of Boston and watched the marathon pass through her hometown every year with her family and friends. When she heard about the bombings, Rogel said she was in “complete shock.”

“I … have such joyous memories of Marathon Monday and it’s just so devastating to think that it will completely change from now on,” she said. “After seeing the streams and talking to my friends, I think it will take a long time for people to get over the fear.”

For Rogel, more than just the marathon will change as a result of Monday’s events.

“I have never felt I was in any danger walking around Boston and I think this was an unfortunate wake-up call that this really could happen anywhere at any time,” she said. “It’s also such a different feeling when something like this happens at home.”

Harry Back, an instructor in the health and wellness studies department, ran the marathon three times between 2010 and 2012, but said he still plans to cross the finish line again.

“I do hope to run Boston again,” he said, “because it is Boston and we cannot let events such as today take away our freedom to choose our goals or dictate how we go about celebrating our achievements.”