Union strength coach gives account of a day he and his family won't soon forget

Union strength coach Kevin Miller talks being at Boston epicenter

Boston bombings

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What began as one of the greatest days of the year ended in panic.

Ultimately, it ended in relief for Kevin Miller and his family.

For Miller, the Philadelphia Union’s strength and conditioning coach, the 2013 Boston Marathon will be etched in his mind forever.

And for all the wrong reasons.

Instead of reveling in one of the most exciting sporting events in the United States, Miller will remember the Boston Marathon for the terror, carnage, confusion and despair in the wake of two bombs that exploded just a few feet from the finish line on Boylston Street.

Miller’s wife, Mary Jo, was participating in the Boston Marathon for the first time ever. Kevin said he ran the race in 2001 and ’02, but this was the first time for Mary Jo.

Kevin joined his wife around the 20-mile mark at Boston College and planned on running alongside her from there for support.

Little did they know what was looming in the not-so-distant future.

Mary Jo completed the race about 30 minutes before two lethal bombs struck near the finish line, killing three people and wounding nearly 200 others.

“When she finished, I looked around for about 20 minutes for her, checking side streets,” Miller said. “Everything was barricaded off and there were ambulances and police everywhere. Our plan was to meet at the hotel about a block-and-a-half away. I finally got a voice message from her and then we met back at the hotel. It was chaos. We turned the TV on in the hotel and saw the explosion, though we never heard it."

“I don’t think any of us knew how bad it was until we saw it on TV and then heard the news reports about what happened. We were really lucky. We walked down to the lobby and there was chaos everywhere. We stayed that night and had a 5:30 flight the next morning. We got to the airport around 3:40 and it was completely packed, almost like it was rush hour or something.”

Since the family returned home, they have been asked countless times about what transpired on that scary day in Boston.

They will never forget.

“It’s one of those things that you can’t really explain because you never expect something like that to happen,” Miller said. “We love the Boston Marathon because it’s one of the best events. What happened that day now impacted so many people. It’s the tragic loss of lives and it will stick with you forever. You hope and pray that those people who were injured get well soon. I don’t know if the Boston Marathon is ever going to be the same.

“You never know in life. It should have been a special day and it turned into a tragic day for so many people.”

The Union travel to Foxborough, Mass., to face the New England Revolution on Saturday.

It’s a huge match for the Union, who are looking to win consecutive matches on the road following a 3-2 victory at D.C. United.

This particular match will be emotional for the Miller family. It’s so much more than three points.

“It’s definitely in the back of your mind,” Miller said. “This just happened recently and it was so tragic for so many people. I do think it’s something that will stick in the back of your mind. What stuck with me was the people bonding together to help each other. The pride people had in supporting each other was amazing. Boston is a tough city and they will rebound.

“There were lives and families that will be changed forever from what happened at the Boston Marathon. I’m sure Saturday’s match will be emotional for a lot of reasons. I know I’ll feel it."

Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at andy.jasner@yahoo.com