• Two Boylston Street businesses forever linked after Marathon


    BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) -- Two businesses a block away from one another on Boylston Street are now forever linked.

    As we all know by now, feet from where running store chain Marathon Sports still stands, the first bomb went off at last year's Boston Marathon. The next, 11 seconds later, outside Forum restaurant and bar.

    "It's just a crazy, crazy thing," Shane O'Hara, manager of Marathon Sports, said.

    Fortunately, the explosion didn't impact much of the building. But the people working inside it, are another story.

    "And I was probably, you know 10-15 feet from the door when it went off," O'Hara said.

    He still clearly remembers the next few frantic minutes, ushering people into his store to safety and looking for anything that could be used as a makeshift tourniquet.

    "A runner that had a bib number just started taking apparel off and it became a norm to just start taking all the apparel that we had in the front window and just started delivering it to anyone that was able to help outside," O'Hara said.

    As the bomb was going off outside Marathon Sports, just two minutes down the road, the patrons and staff celebrating the day at Forum had no idea what was going on. Sadly, natural curiosity would put them in greater danger.

    "You heard the other blast and then everyone starts moving toward the front to look down to see what happened," Chris Loper, general manager of Forum said.

    After that, the second blast happened.

    Loper and Events Manager Erin Fleming were hosting a Marathon watch party for a former Patriot's player's cancer charity that day.

    "We did have about 30 or 40 people out on our patio, mostly this whole area was the Joe Andruzzi Foundation," Loper said.
    "I was in the kitchen, just inside the kitchen, and I can't remember ever hearing anything as loud as that explosion," Fleming said.

    Just like at Marathon Sports, the staff immediately jumped into action. Fleming ran right onto the restaurant floor where both her managerial skills and survival instincts quickly kicked in.

    "We had a full restaurant, we needed to make sure that they got to safety," Fleming said.

    Not knowing if another attack was coming, she got the guests out the back door and into the alley.  Then, like O'Hara, she instinctually began looking for any kind of first aid materials.

    "Ice and towels and linen and anything at that point you could do to help," she said. "Which doesn't seem like much at all in the grand scheme of things."

    It has been a difficult year for the staff at both businesses.

    Both were shut down for months and the staff kept away while police treated both as crime scenes. Both businesses declined to disclose to us just how much money they lost, but overall, businesses in the area collectively lost millions in projected retail sales, lost wages and property damage.

    But there's no way to put a price tag on the emotional damage.

    "I still struggle to, I don't know, be more light, be more joking. I'm trying to bring, bring that back," O'Hara said.

    Fleming and O'Hara are working through it coincidentally, they both decided on the same solution for getting through this year's first anniversary.

    They're both running the marathon.

    "I don't know if I could be inside Forum looking out again, like I was, I don't think I can be on the street, but I have to be in Boston and I have to be a part of it all so why don't I just run?" Fleming asked.

    Fleming had never run before in her life, before now. O'Hara, as you might expect because of his job, is a seasoned runner and he's now become a great resource for Fleming.

    Both see it as a way to sort of reset their brains' memories of the Marathon and create new, positive memories.

    "That's kinda like my goal now is to hopefully finish before that had occurred so I can get back in the store and almost kinda go back in time like, hey it didn't happen. I can have my beer, lock the door and you know job well done, we had another successful Marathon day," O'Hara said.

    "I'm literally moving forward from all of that with every step," Fleming said. "And it feels good. It makes me stronger physically and it makes me stronger mentally."

    Even once O'Hara and Fleming cross the finish line, Fleming has one final goal she'd like to accomplish on Marathon Monday: to be able to step back inside Forum and feel comfortable enough to stick it out and help finish the charity fundraiser they started last year, but didn't get to finish.

    It's a theme we've been hearing a lot about this year, including from the runners who were stopped before making it to the finish line.

    This year is all about finishing what was started with such good intentions last year and replacing bad memories with better ones.

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