A lecturer is back at his desk having escaped the terrorist bombs which left three dead and more than 170 injured after running the Boston marathon.
Simon Roberts, 42, a senior journalism tutor at the University of Chester, was fortunate to finish the race in three hours and 16 minutes so was away from the finishing line when the twin explosions went off 53 minutes later.
Mr Roberts, who lives with his wife and family in Eccleston Road, Higher Kinnerton, was relaxing in a bar when he witnessed the carnage unfolding on TV.
Simon, deputy head of the media department, told The Chronicle: “During my second pint the news came through there had been an explosion and there were lots of sirens outside.
“Initially it looked like it was a gas explosion or something like that and then when the second bomb went off it became something more serious.
“Gradually the pub started to fill up with people who had been at the finish-line and quite a few of those people had seen some fairly unpleasant images and then rumour and counter rumour started to fly around.
“What can you do in those circumstances? So people were just taking it in their stride to a certain extent while being alarmed at what they were seeing.”
Simon, an ex-business journalist, who lost former colleagues in September 11, pointed out that a terrorist attack on the London Marathon had been satirised by the Chris Morris film Four Lions. He said: “I think I’ve done 17 marathons now and I’ve often thought they are impossible to police.”
“The awful thing is that it was children that got killed. That was the thing that got me,” added Simon, who was reunited with his wife Kate and children Morgan, 11, and Eve, nine, at Manchester Airport yesterday morning before being dropped off at work.
“It’s a bizarre target, I will say that,” added the lecturer, who has written books on political journalism which has involved him travelling to unstable countries and feels these experiences kept him a ‘bit calmer’.
Simon, a member of Buckley Runners, would normally have been preparing for this weekend’s London marathon – which he has completed five times – but had decided to run the Boston race which is the world's oldest annual marathon.
He added: “With it being Patriots’ Day, hundreds of thousands of people turned out because it’s such a long-established event and it’s so prestigious. People come from all over the world. The atmosphere at some points was incredible and it was a real shame for it to end that way. I hope they run it as normal next year.”
Simon’s wife Kate, who stayed in Kinnerton with the family, was shocked to hear news of the bomb on Monday evening.
She said: “I was helping out with the Scouts and had both children with me. I received a text asking ‘Is Simon OK? I’ve just seen the news’. I said ‘What news?’ ‘The bomb’ came the reply and I had this terrible moment of panic but I got a text from Simon’s sister who said he was fine and in the pub!”
Kate, an archivist, was then able to speak to Simon and see him in a video call which was reassuring for her and the children.
In a string of tweets, Simon captured a flavour of the atmosphere.
“Sitting next to two people that were close to it, all very confused at the moment,” he wrote. “Lots of sirens, police cars racing past. Some pictures coming in from the local Boston news channel. Marathon suspended apparently.”
“Rumours of a third explosion, but suspect they are just rumours. Think I will stay in the pub though...” Simon later added: “Table next to me were watching at finish very close to the blasts. Two more devices defused apparently.”