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San Diegans In Boston Horrified By Explosions

Firefighters take postion on Boyltson Street near the finish line after two bombs exploded during the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Darren McCollester
Firefighters take postion on Boyltson Street near the finish line after two bombs exploded during the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Dozens of runners and others from San Diego in Boston during today's Boston Marathon said they've been shaken by the explosions, smoke, chaos, sirens -- and by the blood -- they witnessed Monday afternoon.

San Diegans In Boston Horrified By Explosions
Runners and others from San Diego in Boston during today's Boston Marathon said they've been shaken by what they witnessed.

Bobbi Caughey is with the San Diego Track Club and has raced in many Boston Marathons. He and several members of his family who had traveled to Boston for the event were enjoying a celebratory lunch when the explosions happened.

"I'm absolutely devastated. This is a sporting event that so many people train their lives for, and to target a soft target like this, to me, is heart wrenching," Caughey said.


Caughey said fewer racers cross the finish line in the first 90 minutes or so after the winner crosses. He said the explosion appeared to be timed for about 4 hours after the race began, when more runners finish.

Another San Diego runner, Steve Pulver, said he finished just 10 minutes before the first explosion. His wife was among the spectators close to the finishing line, but she was inside a store getting him lunch when the bombs went off.

Pulver says this won't put him off participating next year.

"Boston is a very special race and they'll deal with this very safely," Pulver said. "This will probably be one of the safest races in the world. I don't want to succumb to the terrorists who try to ruin it."

Caughey said a medical tent was very close to the finish line and he saw dozens of Boston Police officers and emergency personnel spring into action as soon as the smoke from the explosion started to spread.


Kimberley Beatty, a Poway Unified School District board member who ran the race for the fourth time with her husband, crossed the finish line about 10 minutes before the blasts.

Her husband, Ned Beatty, said he finished the race about 15 minutes earlier than Kimberley. He had picked up his own gear and was walking toward the women's gear station to wait for his wife when he heard the first of two bombs explode near the finish line.

"I saw the white smoke coming from across the course," Beatty said. "I was very concerned at first because I didn't know where she was. So I was working my way through the crowd to find her. And what a sense of relief when I finally did."

Kimberley told that she and Ned will return to San Diego on Tuesday.

Mike Lee of the San Diego Track Club was running his fourth Boston Marathon. He struggled a bit at Mile 18 and finished the race later than he expected -- about 15 minutes before the first explosion, soon after 3 p.m. EST. Lee said he was about two blocks away from the blasts.

"When the first blast went off, you could just feel it reverberating through your body. But everybody on the sidewalk just froze in time," Lee said. "And then the second one went off -- and then everybody knew this was really serious and we saw people just rushing to get away from the finish line as fast as possible."

Lee said he could see the smoke billowing from the blast and the mood in the area was one of abject fear as parents tried to calm their children. He said he's heading back to San Diego today, adding that this will probably be the last time he runs the Boston Marathon.

Tom Hoogendoorn is a Canadian who is friends with many members of San Diego’s Track Club. He said he was with them in a Boston restaurant, having finished the race, just a block and half away from finish line when he heard the explosion go off. He said he immediately saw police and emergency vehicles roar in.

“I can tell you the streets are chaotic. There are multiple lock-downs in hotels and malls,” he said, describing the hours immediately after the blasts.

Hoogendoorn said members of his group run at different paces and finish at different times, and at first he wasn’t sure if everyone was accounted for. San Diegan Lisa Schwarte, who runs with PR Marathon Training, also said she didn’t know whether any of her friends had crossed the finish-line as explosion went off.

“Some possibly could have finished within that certain time frame, depending on what kind of race they had. So we started, kind of, doing a head count,” she said.

Both Hoogendoorn and Schwarte said they thought all of their comrades were accounted for.

The company that runs San Diego's Rock and Roll marathon said today's bombing in Boston has caused them to review their security plans. The San Diego marathon is scheduled for June second.

In a statement, spokesmen for the Competitor Group said they were working with "government and law enforcement agencies to review security protocol and safety procedures in light of the tragic events of the day." They said they would provide more details "in the coming days."

The Competitor Group manages 32 marathon or half-marathon events around the world.

Lauren Osga of San Diego is a graduate student at Boston University. She lives near Kenmore Square, at Mile 25 of the marathon. Osga said she was walking home from yoga class when she saw hundreds of people walking away from the marathon toward her.

A Boston street after the explosions near the Boston Marathon.
A Boston street after the explosions near the Boston Marathon.

"All of those people were walking out, down the street where my house is, toward me," she said. "There were cops going the wrong way on one-way streets. And I thought: 'This is a lot more sirens than I heard earlier, and there are a lot more helicopters.' And eventually people started texting me, 'oh my gosh, are you okay?' "

Osga said she was scared and nervous because she was unaware of what was happening. She says she stopped to search online for information and to wait for her university's emergency text, which didn't come until 30 minutes after the explosions.

Osga and her classmates planned to wait inside their house until the city was declared safe.

One San Diegan who avoided the blasts was Svetlana Yesaulova, an avid runner from Carlsbad.

She said she finished the race about 30 minutes before the first explosion. She crossed the finish line, collected her belongings and started making her way back to the apartment where she was staying. About a mile away, she heard blasts that reminded her of thunder, or heavy artillery.

"I'm walking through the park and I heard the two explosions," she said. "They sounded like Camp Pendleton explosions."

Yesaulova said she didn't know what had happened until she started receiving text messages from concerned friends. Only after turning on the television did she learn about the explosions. Everyone she knows who ran the marathon is safe.

Like so many others, she said she was watching the tragedy unfold on TV, watching "in shock."

Jim McNevin, a coach with PR Marathon Training in San Diego, had finished the race well before the explosion and was resting two blocks away when the explosion happened.

“Everybody’s in shock, you know I’ve done the Boston Marathon 9 years in a row now and at the end of the race we all get together and it’s a celebration," he said. "No one’s celebrating. It’s awful.”

McNevin said everyone in his training team made it through safely.