UNION — The Boston Marathon was upended on Monday when explosions went off near the finish line, leaving at least two dead and dozens injured.
“The farthest thing in your mind when you’re running is that something like that could happen,” said Lockhart native Kellie Eaves, who completed last year’s Boston Marathon and is believed to be the only athlete hailing from Union County to have ever competed in the prestigious event.
Eaves said she watched in disbelief as news of Monday’s terror in Massachusetts was aired. Last year, she described crossing the finish line as one of the most exciting moments in her life. On Monday, Eaves attempted to put herself in the place of athletes participating in this year’s race.
“I wonder what the people who were right there must’ve been thinking,” said Eaves. “You want to continue running because that’s what you’ve trained to do, you want to get to that finish line. Something like that happening must take you completely out of your current situation. The look on this one man’s face was like he thought he might’ve been shot or hit by something — he didn’t know what had happened.”
The two blasts occurred well after the top runners had completed the race, but while thousands of other competitors were still on the 26.2-mile (42-kilometer) course, some of whom were approaching the end of the race where the blasts occurred.
About two hours after the winners — Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia and Rita Jeptoo of Kenya — crossed the finish line, there was a loud explosion on the north side of Boylston Street, just before the photo bridge that marks the finish line. Another explosion could be heard a few seconds later.
Boston Marathon officials told news outlets that bombs caused the explosions and that race organizers were working with authorities to determine what happened.
“I can imagine it was extremely scary for those people who were there, about to have the most exciting moment of their lives, then have it be so tormenting instead,” said Eaves, who finished the 2012 Boston Marathon with a time of four hours and four minutes.
On Monday, competitors and race volunteers cried and fled the chaos in a panic. Bloody spectators were being carried to the medical tent that had been set up to care for fatigued runners.
“I dealt with heat during last year’s race and I keep thinking, That’s nothing compared to what they’re going through right now,” said Eaves. “This is just shocking.”