Charlie Olbrias, Timer

Charlie Olbrias of Willimantic remembers getting into a shouting match with a police officer last year. Olbrias, co-owner of the Last Mile Timing Company, was the official timer at the 30K mark of the Boston Marathon. After the bombs went off near the finish line, nobody was sure what was happening. Eight miles away, Olbrias and the people around him hadn't heard any explosions. But the police told Olbrias he needed to remove his mats from the road. Runners were still streaming across them. "But I'm the Boston Marathon," he remembers shouting. Eventually, Olbrias moved the mats to the side of the road but was told to keep recording runners so officials could keep track of them. "I'm angry," he said last year after the bombs went off. "I'm sad. Why would someone even do this? I love the Boston Marathon. I've run it twice, timed it three times. It means something to me, this race. It's something you feel safe with. To have this tragic event happen, it's horrible. At a running race? Could you imagine not being safe at a road race?" And when the runners crossed the mats, it fell to Olbrias to tell them that their race was over. And why. They were devastated. One woman from Canada broke into tears. She was worried about her daughter at the finish line. Olbrias brought three runners, who were stranded, to a nearby train station. This year, Olbrias will be back timing the 30K mark for the fourth year. He understands the need to honor the victims and the injured and remember what happen last year, all of which has been done this week in Boston. "I'm looking forward to getting there," Olbrias said. "I hope there's no pomp and circumstance [that day]. The victims need to be honored. But as soon as the horn goes off, I hope it's all about running. That would be the best way for a lot of people to heal."
Patrick Raycraft / Hartford Courant
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