Boston local Shi-Hua Chin, who had completed the famed American marathon three times, was just metres away from the bomb blast last year, working with an event sponsor at the finish line.
She has taken many months to move on from the horrors of that day, with significant time spent living with her sister in Australia. Chin has decided to take that one step further when she tackles the Cairns Airport IRONMAN Cairns on 8 June.
“Of the countless times that I’ve visited Australia, I’ve never been to Cairns, so what better way to see the region than over the course of an IRONMAN,” Chin said.
She has completed a number of 70.3 events but this is her first time for the full IRONMAN.
“I’m pretty intimidated about the distance. I’m very much looking forward to it but I’m a little scared of the swim. As long as I make it out before the cut off, I’ll be pleased. I know I can handle the biking and running. And I can’t wait to see my sister when I run across that finish line,” she said.
Chin was working for a company that was responsible for sponsor activation at the Boston Marathon, and was checking on the Gatorade stand at the finish line.
“The first bomb went off and I thought it was a cannon but the second bomb went off 20 metres from where I was standing.
“The chaos was mind-numbing, the fear in people’s eyes was unforgettable. I saw people getting wheeled off in stretchers, missing limbs and blood gushing. It was something that I will never forget.
“I saw things that on-one should see.”
Chin, just 22 at the time, tried to keep her composure and help those in need. However she kept thinking about her own safety.
“Am I going to die today, how many more bombs are there and will I see my friends and family again? Were some of the thoughts going through my mind.”
When it was over, Chin found her bike, hid in a nearby alleyway and sobbed uncontrollably.
The therapy has helped a slow healing process, and she has spent time in Australia as part of that.
“My sister lives in Sydney and I was in Sydney for two months just to escape Boston after the marathon. I love Australia, the weather and the people.”
At some point on race day Chin’s mind will likely take her back to that dreadful day in Boston, and it will be the good she witnessed, not the bad, that inspires her to finish.
“I witnessed both the worst and the best of humanity. It makes me angry about the whole thing, but Bostonians are a hard people. They are loyal to their city, their sports teams and they have so much pride,” she said.
“They refuse to be messed with, and that’s what I love about living in Boston. The people are truly strong.”