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Published: Monday, April 15, 2013, 10:13 p.m.

County residents in marathon describe chaos, fear

Snohomish County residents running in the marathon describe the disbelief that followed two blasts.

  • Four runners from Snohomish County participating in the Boston Marathon are photographed Sunday near the finish line: Steve Howe and Erin Park of Lake...

    Submitted Photo

    Four runners from Snohomish County participating in the Boston Marathon are photographed Sunday near the finish line: Steve Howe and Erin Park of Lake Stevens; and Mark Stadum and Gina Noel of Marysville.

Patti Crookshank had just crossed the Boston Marathon finish line, with a sore hip, when she heard the first blast.
"The street was just filled with people with marathon blankets on," said Crookshank, 51, from Snohomish. "We heard the blast and everybody turned around and looked."
She was about a block away.
"It was the kind of blast, it shook your hair. Smoke was coming out on the left side of the finish line, billowing out," Crookshank said.
She figures it was just 10 seconds later when the second explosion rocked the area. "Our first thought was: 'What's going to blow up next?'" said Crookshank, whose husband, Randy Crookshank, was at the finish line to walk across with her.
Crookshank was one of about 40 runners from Snohomish County participating in the marathon, which was rocked by two bomb blasts Monday, killing at least three people and injuring more than 140 others.
Within minutes of the blasts, police and National Guard members were running through the crowd. "They wanted all the runners to move quickly and get around the corner to the family meeting area around the block," she said.
Emergency vehicles and fire trucks came next, pushing runners out of the way, Crookshank said.
Here are some of the stories told by county marathoners who participated in the race and others:

Adam Cornell: The Snohomish County deputy prosecutor and his wife were sitting in a Boston hotel Monday afternoon, listening to the wailing of sirens as emergency crews continued to tend to the dozens of injured people.
Cornell had crossed the finish line about an hour before the blasts.
His wife, who was there to cheer him on, had walked by one of the sites about 20 minutes before the deadly explosions.
"It could have been my wife or me," Cornell said. "It's just, just unfathomable.
"My memory of my first Boston Marathon will not be about finishing the race but about the innocent people who were harmed for some unknown reason," he said.

Kristen Carter: The 25-year-old women's winner of the 2012 Seattle Marathon told family members that she was back in her hotel resting after completing the Boston Marathon when the explosion occurred.
"An awful lot of people want to know what's going on with my daughter," her father, John Carter, of Bellingham, said.
Carter said he had received four texts from his daughter, wanting him to reassure family and friends that she was unhurt and OK.
Carter said his daughter finished a little slower than she had hoped, with a time of 2:47:38, because of a pulled quadriceps muscle.
The Bellingham woman posted the following message on Facebook before the start of Monday's race:
"Take my feet and let them be, Swift and beautiful for Thee, Game on time."

Joleen Rodgers: The Snohomish High School sprint team coach said she was in the finishing chute, a little disappointed with being slowed by leg cramps, when she heard a loud bang. "No one was really sure what it was. Not knowing at all what was happening was really chaotic," she said. "You could see smoke. Some people were screaming."
Rodgers, 36, who works at The Everett Clinic, belongs to a group called the Marathon Maniacs, and has participated in about two dozen marathons.
She and her husband, Jason Rodgers, were also in Boston to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary. It took about 10 minutes for the couple to find each other.
"It felt way too long," she said.
Monday afternoon, Rodgers posted to Facebook saying that she was scared but OK. "Very close to the finish line at the time" (of the explosion), she posted. "Mass chaos … so scary. Please pray."

Steven Nester: The 18-year-old was home in Bothell when he got a call from his grandmother telling him about the Boston explosions. His mother, Suzanne Nester, 44, was running her first Boston Marathon.
"I didn't know about it until my grandmother called," he said.
He quickly called his father, Jeff Nester, who was in Boston but not running with his wife.
"My dad said he had to get off the line quickly," he said. His father told him they were both safe. The couple left for Boston on Saturday and planned to be home Thursday.
"He was there to support her," Nester said of his father. "It looks awful," he added.

Faye Britt: Arlington's Haller Middle School vice principal had crossed the finish line shortly before the first explosion. She and other runners were taken to a safe place away from the downtown area.
"She was able to get to the airport and make her plane home," said Arlington School District spokeswoman Andrea Conley said. "Faye is safe."

Erin Park: The 42-year-old Lake Stevens woman was about a half-mile from reaching the finish line when she suddenly heard sirens and saw helicopters swarming overhead.
"The race came to a stop," she said. "We didn't know what was going on."
Finally, she and her husband, Matt Park, left the race course.
Park was one of six people from a running group called S3 participating in the race. Several of the members gathered for a photo Sunday at the finish line.
Park works as a recovery room nurse at Overlake Hospital in Bellevue. It was her fourth marathon but the first time she participated in the Boston Marathon.
Until the moment the race stopped, it had been an ideal day for running, she said, with temperatures in the mid-50s, sunny and with a light breeze.
"The race was the most amazing race," she said. "Every mile … people were yelling your name and cheering. Until the end, it was the most fun race I've ever done."

Herald writers Gale Fiege and Alejandro Dominguez also contributed to this report.

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