Marathon runner from Waxhaw recalls terror in Boston

Marathon runner from Waxhaw recalls terror in Boston


by ANN SHERIDAN / NBC Charlotte Staff

Bio | Email | Follow: @SheridanWCNC

Posted on April 30, 2013 at 7:42 AM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 30 at 8:00 AM

WAXHAW, N.C. -- She finished the Boston Marathon only seconds before the bombs exploded. 

And now, she is speaking out  about the moments after the terror and what she thinks saved her family from harm.

"These are all my race bibs that I collect, and this one's from Boston,”  said Shirley Wang as she combed through a stack of numbers.

While her friends and family know her as Shirley,  in Boston she was Bib number 19852.

“It was just so awesome.  You felt so great like a rock star the whole way you were running,” said Wang.

In the  crowd were Wang’s  biggest fans:  her   husband, children and parents, following her mile-by-mile. 

“They would jump out of the subway and they'd try to meet me, and it's a split second that they might see me, and sometimes they'd miss me,” she said.

But her family pressed on, catching her several times throughout the race course.  Even at mile 22, they were there to watch her pass.

“My dad was surprised I was fresh at that point,” she said.

Wang says her father  was surprised because she was running injured, suffering from a pulled tendon.  And although Wang pressed on, her family was waning.

“My parents were so tired.   And my mom just had back surger, and  she was walking slowly."

Her parents, children and husband never made it to the finish line, stopping about two blocks from the finish line.    Wang finished, crossing  at  4:08:59.  

“Pretty much I crossed the finish line and the bomb exploded behind me and I turned around to my left and could see the white cloud."

Shirley finished 44 seconds before the first bomb, but had no idea what was behind her.  Race organizers waved her through the crowds and told her to keep moving.

“I got a text off to my husband saying I’m OK.  Where are you?”

Wang never got their text.  Her  phone had died.  She wondered around looking for her family, and decided to head back to the hotel.  She didn’t learn of the tragedy until she got on the elevator.

“I'm in the elevator going to the twentieth  floor saying please, please God let them be there."

After completing 26.2 miles, Wang’s  toughest journey  was still ahead.  Would anyone be in the room?  She knocked and the door opened.

“My parents were there and my husband and my two kids and they couldn't stop hugging and kissing me."

Boston marathon finisher 19852 was safe and so was her family.

“It makes me so thankful and I just have faith in God and that has strengthened me through all of this,” she said.

She says she believes it was divine intervention that kept her family away from the finish line that day, and kept her seconds ahead of the bombings.

“It was His hand that pushed me forward and my family back and made us all safe,” she said.

Wang says she will not attempt to run the Boston Marathon again, instead, she says, she wants to take running a little easier, and spend more time with her family.

She says she can forgive the Tsarneav brothers for their senseless act, but hopes Dzhokar Tsarveav cooperates with investigators.