By Michael Fields
Special to the Caledonia Argus
April 15 was a warm and sunny day in Boston. A perfect day to go for a run. Caledonia native Dane Wolf would have gone running regardless of weather conditions but noted the day with approval as he stepped out of his apartment on Commonwealth Avenue and jogged toward the Charles River.
Wolf’s normal route takes him across the Charles into Cambridge, along the river past M.I.T., across the river again and up Beacon Hill before heading back along the river parkway to home.
It was the 117th Marathon Day in Boston and Wolf wanted to be showered and changed in time to see some of the elite runners (usually the Kenyans) start crossing the finish line on Boylston Street, a mere two and a half blocks from his apartment. The atmosphere on Boylston was festive, and the sidewalk was packed elbow to elbow with other spectators.
After seeing some of the runners and taking a few photos, Dane decided it was time to go home and start studying. Then, about an hour into solving physics problems he heard the shattering, “Boom,” followed a few moments later by another.
“Thinking it might be military aircraft breaking the sound barrier,” he explained, “I went to look out the window and noticed a woman pushing a baby stroller in the direction of the race who suddenly turned around and ran in the opposite direction followed by a stream of children and adults.
“At that point I knew something was definitely not right. I quickly changed into street clothes and ran outside to see what was going on and saw countless people flooding across Commonwealth Avenue in front of my building. I asked an old man what had happened and he said, ‘A bomb,’ but I didn’t believe him.
“In retrospect, it gives me an eerie feeling to realize that I was standing, quite literally, between the two bombs – perhaps 100 to 200 feet away from the one closest to the finish line – and had considered moving even closer. It was pretty much a coin toss, but fortunately I decided to go home to study about an hour before the explosions occurred. Needless to say, had I decided to remain there I probably would have been injured.”
Wolf moved to Boston in 2007 to attend Boston University where, in January, he received a bachelor of science degree in biology, graduating summa cum laude. He’s currently studying for the Medical College Admission Test.
Another Boston University student, 21-year-old undergrad Lu Lingzi of China, was killed in the attack.
During his run the next day Wolf noticed more joggers than usual. “I think it was Bostonians showing everybody that they’re not intimidated.”
He was impressed when Boston Police Chief Ed Davis said it’s important that we not be intimidated by acts of terrorism because the real aim of such attacks is to induce us to forget who we are.
“I am a Minnesotan, a Bostonian and an American and what that means to me is that even though I may be afraid, I will never allow my desire for security to override my need to live freely and openly. My freedoms not only define who I am, they are what make my life worth living,” Wolf said.
Aside from a heavy police presence, Wednesday was uneventful as people began to grow accustomed to one of their favorite streets having been turned into a crime scene.
On Thursday Wolf walked about a mile down to the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in South End in hopes of attending the interfaith service where President Obama was scheduled to speak. But, by the time he arrived, the cathedral was full and he was forced to hang around outside with a couple of thousand other latecomers.
“Fortunately, I was able to use my phone to live stream the Public Radio broadcast of the service,” he recalled. “I turned up the volume and listened to it with a bunch of other people.”
Wolf didn’t see the president that day but did manage to see Senator Elizabeth Warren leaving with her husband. After returning home he obeyed the “shelter in place” order and waited, along with the rest of Boston, for the dramatic events to play out.
Wild, Wild East
They didn’t have long to wait. In the wee hours of Friday morning M.I.T. police officer Sean Collier was gunned down followed by the wild shootout in Watertown between police and the bombing suspects about five miles west of Wolf’s apartment. The entire nation became riveted by the day-long, nationally televised manhunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
While we’ll have to wait to find out if Tsarnaev sheds any light on what motivated him to bomb the Boston Marathon, Wolf said he thinks it had more to do with religion than a hatred of running.
“Every religion has its fanatics,” he said. “These are people who have rejected science and turned their backs on reason. Once you’ve done that, you’re capable of anything.”
Dane Wolf is the son of Caledonia attorney Gregory Schultz and Marianne Schultz of La Crescent. His brother, Jesse, owns Katmandu Trading Company, an import store in Portland, Oregon.