Cumberland Times-News

April 19, 2013

Former city man tells story of Boston Marathon attack

Michael A. Sawyers
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — Former Cumberland resident Brennan Mullaney, as he ran in the Boston Marathon on Monday with only one mile to go, heard from another runner that there had been explosion at the finish line.

“We actually started running faster and then we started to see some visual evidence that something had happened,” Mullaney told the Times-News by phone from Massachusetts on Friday as 10,000 police officers continued searching for the one alleged bomber who remained alive.

“Police officers lined the street for crowd control, that’s normal, but we started to hear a lot of chirping on their shoulder radios and they seemed very intense. Then we could hear fire engines and see fast-moving helicopters. There was a growing security presence.”

About one-half mile from the finish, the backlog of runners that had stacked up brought Mullaney’s race to an end.

“I still had no knowledge of what specifically had transpired,” the 2001 Bishop Walsh graduate said.

Mullaney didn’t have any family waiting for him at the finish line, but two of his running partners, from a Tufts University team where he is a graduate student, did.

“They left to try to reach the finish line,” Mullaney said.

Eventually, local busses began picking up stranded runners and transported them to a central area. Cell phone service had been knocked out by authorities, according to Mullaney.

“One of the men I was running with had a $20 bill so we went to a burrito shop and ate a burrito.”

It was at the cafe that Mullaney found a customer with a laptop computer and for the first time got an overview of what had taken place. There, too, he borrowed a cell phone and texted his parents, Michael and Pattie Mullaney, LaVale, letting them know he was not harmed.

“I live in Somerville, about six or seven miles away from where they brought us, and for a while I was thinking I was going to have to run home,” Mullaney said. Soon, though, contact was made with Tufts University officials who sent shuttle buses to bring the 125-member running team back to the campus.

The events that began to unfold Thursday night, and which led to the death of one suspected bomber and the search for the other, his brother, impacted Mullaney only in that Tufts University shut down Friday.

“The young officer from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) who was shot and killed lives in my neighborhood. I never met him, but you can see his house from mine,” Mullaney said.

Mullaney said he went to sleep early Thursday and was unaware of the slaying and chase of the suspects in nearby Watertown until a friend called him at 5 a.m. Friday to ask if he was watching TV.

After high school, Mullaney graduated from West Point. He has served two tours of duty in Iraq and remains a captain in the Army Reserve.

Mullaney also runs with Team Red, White and Blue, a group that promotes healing among veterans.

“We use physical fitness and social interaction to help veterans,” Mullaney said. “We usually have a run along the Charles River on Mondays, but after the events at the Boston Marathon decided to have a response run Tuesday.

Forty runners turned out, he said, 10 times the usual number for the weekly runs.

“There was something about it that is hard to describe, but I think everybody wanted to be a part of support for the community.”

Contact Michael A. Sawyers at