Local marathoner sees herself in photo with Boston bombing suspects

LIBERTY, Mo. - Ten minutes. That can be a lifetime for a marathon runner. At the Boston Marathon last Monday, for 20-year-old Tina Bradshaw, in some ways, it was.

The Missouri State University junior from Liberty crossed the finish line 10 minutes before a pair of explosions ripped through the crowd near the race's end, killing three and injuring more than 150.

Safely back at school this week, Bradshaw was trying to put the tragedy behind her when someone sent her a link to an online news story featuring a photo of her near the finish line. Behind her, clearly visible in the crowd, the now-familiar pair of brothers accused of bombing the marathon moments after Bradshaw passed.

Bradshaw called the photo a frightening reminder of how close she came to getting caught up in Monday's carnage. When she forwarded the photos to her mother Jennifer, who attended the race as a spectator, there was a stronger reaction.

"It's like, holy moly!" Jennifer Bradshaw said, describing her reaction to seeing the photo for the first time.

"This is real?" she said she asked aloud, to no one in particular. "This is real?"

For the elder Bradshaw, even reviewing the photo a day later brings back Monday's fear that something had happened to her daughter. 

"These are the two bombers, and there's my daughter. Six feet away," she told a reporter on Saturday night, pointing to the photo. "She obviously doesn't notice them, but that's them."

As close to disaster as fate might have brought the Bradshaws, mother and daughter believe something stronger kept them safe: The presence of Tina's father Scott, who in November lost his battle with cancer.

After Tina qualified for the Boston Marathon, she gave her father a bracelet she had worn while racing, hoping it would give him strength. After he passed away, she wore the bracelet while she trained. She planned to leave it on the marathon course's Heartbreak Hill on Monday.

"She said she's wearing it to Boston and she's going to throw it at Heartbreak Hill, and she insisted that me and her sister had to be at Heartbreak Hill," Jennifer Bradshaw said. Otherwise, Jennifer Bradshaw said, she would have gone to the finish line to watch her daughter cross and possibly to linger.

Mother and daughter believe it was no coincidence that they were safely away from the finish line when the bombs exploded; that they were being protected.

The two will race again, together, at a marathon in Fort Collins, Colo., in two weeks.

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