LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It was 2:36 p.m. Monday when Manfred Schmidt crossed the finish line at the Boston Marathon.
He had already picked up his medal and was about to grab his bags when, "All the sudden there was a big boom, really a short sharp noise and I turned around and saw that big white smoke plume."
He said he could smell gunpowder and his first thought was someone set off a firework. "I never thought that it would be an attack."
When Schmidt saw that second explosion, he knew it was time to head back to his hotel room. It was there he was inundated with messages and phone calls from friends and family. One person, who after learning he was near the finish line, "said you had an angel guarding you." Schmidt said he can't help but believe that too.
Though this year was his eighth Boston Marathon, it was the first since burying his wife of 36 years. Margaret died from brain cancer in July. She was buried in the couple's home country of Germany in December. The timing of the marathon left Schmidt nervous, "Normally I train 20 weeks for a marathon so on four weeks that wasn't much. That was the reason for my nervousness. I really wasn't sure I could do it."
It was something he repeatedly told Margaret while on the course. "I talked to her. Call me crazy, but I talked to her. I cried. I said Margaret I can't run. I can't breath. I can't cry at the same time. It doesn't work."
That conversation and racing part of the way alongside his training partner Fred McKee gave Schmidt the strength to continue and eventually he left McKee behind. "I caught up with him about mile seven and from there on we went together up to mile 16."
While Schmidt finished just about 15 minutes ahead of the bombs, McKee was running right behind them. "We had that small window where I finished before it happened and he came after it happened."
McKee turned on Boylston Street in sight of the finish line right after the second explosion. "He said he ran another half block, not more and then it was clear it was over."
Schmidt can't help but wonder, what if he stayed with his training partner? "We both realized if I would have stuck with him, I would have run slower and he would have tried to run faster. We could have been right there."
Instead, he's safe at home with his eighth Boston Marathon medal.
Sunday, July 27 2014 11:15 PM EDT2014-07-28 03:15:51 GMT
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