Oregon runners in Boston describe terror

Credit: Getty Images

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 15: A runner sits near Kenmore Square after two bombs exploded during the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. Two people are confirmed dead and at least 23 injured after two explosions went off near the finish line to the marathon. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)

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by KGW Staff

Bio | Email | Follow: @KGWNews

kgw.com

Posted on April 15, 2013 at 5:09 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 16 at 8:28 AM

BOSTON, Mass. -- There were 351 Oregonians and 527 people from Washington state running in the Boston Marathon, according to the Boston Athletic Association.

Some of those runners reached out to KGW, sharing their experiences.

KGW Executive Producer Rich Kurz finished the marathon about a half hour before the first bomb went off. He said he was about two blocks away from the finish line when he heard the explosion. He turned around to see smoke and panicked runners frantically pushing their way out of the blast area.

“There was a good couple of minutes where I was just like, thinking I was there by the grace of God. Had it hit 35 minutes before, I was crossing that very area,” Kurz said. “Realizing how close you were to that scene. I mean, it definitely just shakes you.”

Kurz said the finish line area did not have controlled access and anyone could have come and gone as they wanted.

Video: Runner Rich Kurz describes explosions

A former KGW reporter had also just recently finished running the marathon. Dave Northfield said he was only one block away, talking to a friend when the explosions happened. He said in that second, the mood went from festive to one of panic and dread.

“We heard what sounded like two cannon blasts and we immediately knew this was not part of what was supposed to be happening today. Every conceivable ambulance and first responder was just screaming toward the scene,” he said.

When he learned exactly what had happened, he realized how close he’d come to getting hurt himself.

“I started the race about 20 minutes before I was supposed to,” he said. “I realized if I had started at the time I was supposed to start and I'd gone a little slower, I would have been right there.”

Video: Dave Northfield said it sounded like cannons

Portland firefighter and marathon runner Christine Pezzulo was also close by.

She said she was looking down at her medal and celebrating when suddenly she was shaken by the loud blast. She said at first, she thought it was a gas line explosion or something like that, but soon realized it was a bomb.

“I turned around and all I could see was white smoke everywhere… It was absolutely terrifying,” she recalled. “When the second one went off, people just started completely panicking and running and screaming and crying. My heart is broken. I am very sick for these innocent victims.”

Video: Portland firefighter describes panic, chaos

Several comments also came into KGW via social media about runners from the Portland area who were at the Boston Marathon when the explosions hit:

A Tweet post from Portland Olympic runner Kara Goucher: "Please pray for the victims of the explosion. Please pray for safety."

A Facebook post from Oregon Olympic runner Shalane Flanagan: "My family and I are safe. Thank you for your concerns. Devastating."

A Facebook post from Oregon runner Ty Pete: "The explosion was right at the finish line. Cell phone calls aren't working but texting is. I am safe and my friends that I traveled with are also safe. Prayers to those hurt. The only good thing is that there were hundreds of medical people very close the immediately help those hurt."

According to the Boston Athletic Association, there were 351 Oregonians registered to run, and 527 Washingtonians.

Three other women from Portland were together when the blasts went off. They fled to their hotel room.

"We were standing at our group meeting spot... We heard two simultaneous loud sounds," said Katherine Role. "We kind of looked at each other with wide eyes and looked at the area and there was smoke coming from there."

Video: Women from Portland fled from scene

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