Runners from across the First Coast traveled to Boston to participate in the Marathon, many for the first time Monday.
“People just screamed and started running for their lives. It was mad chaos,” says Jacksonville resident Paul McRae.
McRae completed the race about one hour before the explosions and was back in his hotel. He says immediately after they got the news, his phone started ringing with people wanting to make sure he was safe.
“Thank God is seems like everyone I know is unharmed.”
It was a scary time for some Northeast Florida residents trying to locate loved ones from afar. Northside resident Christian Hawes got a frightening phone call from his mother, who was waiting at the finish line for his father to finish the race.
“She said ‘all I heard was two distinct explosions, I don’t know it they’re bombs or what’s going on, but I wanted to let you know that I’m OK, but we need to find your dad’,” Hawes says.
He tried finding his father through a marathon runners tracking site, and saw his last location about one mile from the finish. Shortly after, his father was tracked down. It was the Ponte Vedra man’s first time running the marathon.
“It was just kind of a bad scene,” Hawes says.
Other people watching the race from the sideline could only describe the scene as ominous.
“On an average day, hundreds of people are walking around this area, it’s very close to a lot of colleges, it’s a very college part of town, and there’s not a single person on the road- it’s very strange,” says Tim Crowley.
Crowley is from Jacksonville, now living in Boston for work. He joined up with a group of people he hadn’t met before to watch the race right off the route.
“Nobody would ever, ever think this would happen in Boston. Ever.”
In the middle of the ominous scene, however, he was proud to see the runners still trying to complete the race. In the immediate aftermath, where it was unclear exactly what had happened, he was happy to see the runners fighting through. A feeling shared by others as well.
“Shouldn’t stop us from trying to do the things we love,” McRae says.
Despite trying to stay positive, McRae says he would “think twice” before running the marathon again.
There were more than 65 Northeast Florida runners in the race.
Neptune Beach: 1
Atlantic Beach 1:
St. Augustine: 4
Ponte Vedra: 10
Ponte Vedra Beach: 2
Orange Park: 2
Green Cove Springs: 1
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