Man who ran 2013 Boston Marathon remembers bombing, returns to finish race

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Monday marks the 121st running of the Boston Marathon. It is the oldest and fastest marathon, and in history, one of the deadliest.

Saturday is the four year anniversary of one of the darkest days in our nation’s history, the Boston Marathon bombings. It was a day that Suffolk resident Michael Davis will never forget, and in the end, he would have an obsession to return to finish what was left undone in 2013.

Davis is legally blind, and in 2013, he ran in his first Boston Marathon with Team Hoyt Boston.

Shortly before the marathon, he took a picture with his mother, his wife, and Rick Hoyt, who is nationally known as Team Hoyt, along with his father Dick for their inspiring runs in marathons

Michael remembers the security guard that stops him in his tracks.

“I think I was at 25 and a half mile or somewhere, and security was saying, ‘The race was over.'”

The race was over because of what happened back at the finish line, where Michael’s mother and wife waited for him. Michael’s wife, Reneka, was shooting video, hoping to see Michael cross the finish line and you can hear her and her mother-in-law on the tape.

“We heard a boom,” Reneka remembers.

She heard that blast that so many of us remember. It was the first of the Tsarnaev brothers’ homemade pressure cooker bombs exploding near the Boston Marathon’s finish line. Then, 12 seconds later, another distinctive, loud blast.

“What was that? Not even a second, or two later, the other bomb happened, and we said, ‘Oh, we got to go,'” says Reneka.

Out on the course, Michael was upset.

“I was in tears for a minute, and I was wondering, ‘Are they OK?'”

Michael was with guide runners who would help him get to where he needed to go. He was actually wondering if there would be more bombs going off.

Reneka adds, “I saw the SWAT team in black vehicles and stuff.”

The video from that day shows a swarming police presence, crime scene tape going up, people laying in the streets and as the blast hits, runners dropping — many of them hit with shrapnel and 16 losing limbs.

Reneka kept asking, “Where is Michael, how is he, where is he? At that time, we couldn’t get any cell phone service because they had shut down cell service.”

It would take an hour for Reneka to find out where Michael was, and four hours for Michael to get back to their hotel.

“When I finally did get back to my hotel, I can hear my mom’s and wife’s voices, and I remember running towards them as fast as I possibly could,” Michael says.

Reneka adds, “When we saw each other, we ran to each other. We hugged and we kissed.”

Michael was determined to complete the marathon he couldn’t complete in 2013, so he came back in 2014 to run it again.

“I didn’t actually get to finish in 2013. I had to finish. I had dreams about finishing… the race… I couldn’t finish.”

Michael would return to Boston in 2014 to take care of unfinished business, completing the Boston Marathon.

“Being able to cross the line, it was like standing up to the brothers saying, ‘You are not going to stop us from living. You aren’t going to stop us from racing,'” Michael said.

Michael hopes in 2018 to become the first blind man to push another in the Boston Marathon. He hopes to do that with Team Hoyt Boston and his rider athlete, Ashton McCormick.

Michael sums it up this way concerning the Tsarnaev brothers: “You are not in control. We are in control. It was my way [running in the 2014 Boston Marathon] of fighting back.”

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death, and his older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in the aftermath of the bombings and shootings while being chased by law enforcement.

Michael Davis is a member of Team Hoyt Virginia Beach. The Hoyts are nationally known, and 2013 was to be their last Boston Marathon, but after the bombings, the two came back and decided to retire after the 2014 Marathon.