Minnesota runners participating in the Boston Marathon Monday are sharing their stories after two explosions killed at least three people and injured more than 100.
More than 500 runners participating in the marathon were registered as being from Minnesota, MPR reports. Olympic distance runner Kara Goucher, who grew up in Duluth, finished in sixth place:
“I saw it happen,” Leah Pustovar, 28, a 2002 Duluth Marshall graduate now living in Stillwater, Minn., told the Duluth News Tribune. She had crossed the finish line just minutes before the first bomb detonated and she was collecting her finisher’s medal when the blast occurred.
“I happened to be looking back and saw the first explosion go off. In less than 30 seconds, I saw the second one. I saw the huge cloud of gray smoke from both of them," she told the newspaper.
Another Minnesota runner in the race was Hennepin County Judge Jay Quam, who was among thousands who narrowly escaped the deadly explosions.
"I thought that somebody must've planted some bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, honestly," Quam told MPR. "There really wasn't any other explanation for those distinctive sounds."
KARE 11 says more than 100 runners from LifeTime Fitness Club Run were in Boston for the race, and Twin Cities attorney Kirsten Rowell crossed the finish line at the marathon before the explosions.
Rowell, who was running the Boston Marathon for the fourth time, said her parents were across the street in a hotel during one of the explosions, which shook their building.
Rowell told KARE that "there was shrapnel that blew out two windows of this very small hotel or storefront and bodies started falling in the street." She also said there was "a lot of blood everywhere" and "there was immediately ambulances on the scene."
See video captured of the first explosion below.
Monique Delong of St. Paul tells the Pioneer Press that she was couldn't finish the marathon because of a leg injury, but was still in the finishing chute of the race when she heard both explosions. She estimates she was about a block away from the explosions, which she said were about 10 seconds apart.
Delong described the explosion as a "loud, deep sound" and "at that point, everyone just froze."
WDAY TV talked with runner Ben Geyer from Henning, Minn., who was one to two blocks from the finish line when he heard the explosions.
At first, Geyer thought the sound was from a "finishing cannon," but when he realized "it was not planned," he said everyone was running everywhere.
The Star Tribune talked with runner Kevin Schooler, a major in the Army National Guard who was two blocks away from the explosion. He said he and other runners around him were "starting to get nervous realizing this isn't just a manhole cover or a transformer explosion."
Schooler added that it seemed "like people were ready to panic and run."
Minnesota marathoner Pat Sauter told the Star Tribune that he had been approaching the finish line when he heard the blasts. Panic and chaos were next, he said.
“One person was missing a limb,” Sauter told the newspaper. “A guy came toward me, his clothes burned or torn off. He had soot all over. It was just chaotic.”
The Duluth News Tribune talked with Deb Schroeder, a Duluth mother who watched her son, Doug, from St. Paul, in the race.
Schroeder, who was two blocks away from the explosion, said she realized something was wrong when she started receiving texts from Minnesota asking if everything was all right.