The words of the Bible played through Raj Patel's mind as he looked for his family at the Boston Marathon finish line.
He was waiting for Mile 26.1, where his family was standing next to the bleachers on Boylston Street. He saw them and blew a kiss.
His audio Bible was playing on his iPod nano — Psalm 119.
“Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.”
He crossed the finish line in a personal record 3 hours, 19 minutes. He found his family. They hugged, took photographs and rushed back to their hotel room. They were on a tight schedule to make a flight back to Tulsa, where Patel is a dentist.
As he got ready, his wife and children heard the first blast. They ran to the window, 23 stories above the street, in time to see the second explosion disrupt the Boston Marathon. The wounded lying on the ground, surrounded by blood and debris, were in the exact spot the Patel children were cheering for their father just 20 minutes before.
Patel's 12-year-old son, Syon, immediately began to cry, followed shortly by his 15-year-old daughter. His wife began to pray.
This was previously a race of profound experience. This was the city of Boston cheering for bib numbers and names of runners they never met. This was 26.2 miles of packed streets and constant encouragement. That was until Monday when two explosions went off near the finish line of Boston's marathon, when it shook not just the runners and spectators, but the city of Boston and the nation.
The Boston Marathon, though, is a special race for a city that creates an incredible race-day atmosphere. Children are given the day off school, the Red Sox play in the afternoon and the city of Boston celebrates Patriots' Day. Now, this marathon will stand for even more. Boston vowed to rise and run again.
Raj Patel is a determined marathon runner, who has run 16 marathons in two years and lives his life for God. He is already preparing for his next 26.2-mile run: The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. He'll be at the Oklahoma City National Memorial early next Sunday morning along with thousands of other runners.
Last year, he missed qualifying for Boston by four seconds, so when he qualified this year and ran his first, he ran through the neighborhoods of Boston where spectators enjoyed barbecues and picnics. Patel wore a white shirt with the word “GRACE” written on the front above the words “Unearned. Undeserved. Unmerited”.