Ballarat veterinarian returns to Boston one year after bombings

BALLARAT veterinarian Diane Gibney completed last year’s Boston Marathon, but others were denied the opportunity to get over the finish line.

Running a personal best, she cleared the finish line minutes before two bombs exploded at the footrace, killing three people and injuring more than 260. 

The Mount Pleasant resident will return to compete in the annual event this April 21 because she feels it will help her to find some long-awaited closure.

“What it really shows is the human spirit and how people are able to overcome fear – it’s evil really – and to rise above it,” Dr Gibney said.

She shaved more than five minutes off her previous best time over 42 kilometres to pass the finish line about 15 minutes before the first bomb blast, at 2.49pm on April 15.

Her sister escaped the second bombing in the spectator crowd by just minutes.

Dr Gibney said qualifying times to this year’s marathon were more competitive, but the field was bigger with many of the victims also given the opportunity to return.

She is expecting “an emotional event” with opportunities to memorialise the people who died.

Dr Gibney was on her way back to her hotel room at the Westin Hotel, which was just metres from the finish line,

when the first bomb exploded.

“It sounded like thunder, but it was much louder and it was wrong,” she said, describing how she looked up at the sky for a plane or collapsing building.

In the anxious minutes that followed, the separated sisters searched for each other before the city went into lock-down

and they were confined to their hotel for the night.

Dr Gibney said even a year on, she could not make sense of the attack.

“Terrorism defies reason to rational people,” she said.

“A marathon of all things is the least political event. There are no religious bases, no race, it transcends all of that.”

She said after months and years of training for the prestigious marathon, there was no then opportunity for runners to celebrate their achievements.

“I really feel like I’ve got some unfinished business,” she said.