As Rehoboth Beach runners return home today, they are still in shock about the explosions that turned fanfare into chaos at the Boston Marathon April 15.
Mary Beth Evans, avid runner and co-owner of Rehoboth Beach Running Store, said she is still digesting the events in Boston.
After finishing in a time of 3:42:47, Evans was ready to celebrate with her friends. As she picked up her medal and got some water, she started to head away from the finish-line area.
"I had only gotten a couple blocks away when I heard the explosions," Evans said. "I thought right away that it was a bomb."
Also a block away from the finish line was Jack Vassalotti, who said the explosions shocked everyone. "It was a beautiful day, and then there were these loud explosions and a plume of smoke over the finish line," Vassalotti said.
From where he was along the barricade, Vassalotti said he saw first responders rush to help the injured, many covered in blood as they were helped out of the area.
After the explosions, Evans said some people just stopped and stared at the smoke. Others turned and started running away from the plume.
Marathon volunteers around her started telling people to move away from the finishing area, so Evans went to the place where she and her friends planned to meet up after the race.
"I met up with one of my friends pretty quickly," Evans said. "I was still in a state of shock so I wasn't really thinking anything."
About 20 minutes later, another friend arrived at the designated meeting area. A fourth friend, Linda Reck, was still on the marathon course.
"Linda didn't get to finish. They were stuck waiting because they couldn't finish," Evans said.
The Rehoboth runners stayed at the designated meeting area for the next two hours, frequently monitoring the area where they expected Reck to pick up her belongings from the bag check area. Once she finally got to baggage check, Reck retrieved her cell phone and the group reunited.
Reck said she saw, "a great show of humanity, before, during and after the event."
"When we arrived [in Boston], we were all so excited about doing the race," Evans said. "Now it's hard to know how to feel. It's hard to be excited about doing well in the race and enjoying it, knowing that people were killed and hurt."
Evans said she won't let the Boston explosions stop her from doing other big races. She re-qualified for the Boston Marathon this year, but she said she doesn't expect to run it next year, but only because she wants to take a break from races after 2013.
She expects race planners will reconfigure the Boston race now.
"I don't think they will let spectators get so close to the finish line because it is so hard to secure – everyone has bags and backpacks," Evans said.
She said races may lose some of their finish-line excitement if they have to become more secure.
"As a racer, I like to finish and wait for my friends to finish," Evans said. "I like to be right at the finish."
Boston police are working with federal officials to determine who was behind the attacks that claimed three lives and injured hundreds.
"While I think some runners will shy away from races, I think others will be more encouraged because they don't want to see terrorists win," Evans said. "I am happy to be coming home to Rehoboth. I feel a little safer because it's smaller."
In two weeks, Evans will run the Triple Crown Trail Hog race: a half marathon, 10K and 5K. In June, she plans to run the Ironman 70.3 Eagleman in Cambridge, Md.
"I think any event could be a target, so I'm not sure what I could do to improve my safety," Evans said. "I feel like runners have a quality that makes them love to run. It's not something we could give up."