IN THE SAVANNA OF THE BACK BAY, a few tenths of a mile from the devastation, all the herds were charging toward her. The runners were fleeing something awful, screaming about explosions. The authorities were shouting something urgent, commanding everyone to follow the stampede away from the chaos on Boylston Street.
Instead, Natalie Stavas ran toward it. She isn’t a cop or firefighter and had every right to flee. But something compelled her to head toward the trouble. The petite blond who lives in the South End and was competing in her fourth Boston Marathon, this time with an injured foot, jumped over a barricade on Hereford Street and sprinted down a back alley. As she approached Boylston, a couple of blocks from the bloody finish line, a cluster of cops barked at her to turn around. She refused, screaming: “I’m a kids’ doctor! Let me help.”