North Devon Journal sports writer Mark Jenkin, who competed in the Boston Marathon yesterday, says he feels grateful to be unhurt after the explosions which killed three people and injured more than 140.
The 34-year-old from Barnstaple told how after running the 26 mile race he then walked across the city to try to give blood after hearing of the tragedy.
Mark said today: "When I arrived back at my hotel no one knew anything about what had happened. But by the time I got to my room, all I could hear were police and ambulance sirens and helicopters outside.
“My hotel is on Berkeley Street, a few blocks away from the finish line. The people of the city put on a great race and it’s such a tragedy this has happened.
“I was feeling tired and a bit disappointed with my time in the race but all that seems irrelevant now. I just feel grateful to be ok.
“It was 2.50pm when I got back to the hotel – almost the exact time the bombs went off. I had crossed the finish line about two hours earlier.
“No one in the reception knew anything about it and I didn’t hear an explosion. But by the time I got to my room I could hear helicopters circling above and loads of sirens.
“Then I heard they were asking for blood donors so I walked across town to the Red Cross centre. But it turned out they couldn’t except blood from anyone who had lived in Britain for a certain period of time.
“On my way back to the hotel I could see where they had sealed off the streets we had been running a few hours before. There were still a few people waiting anxiously to meet up with loved ones.
“The race volunteers were unloading hundreds of unclaimed bags, belonging to people who were unable to finish the race. One of the volunteers found an unmarked bag on a bus which he believed could be another bomb.
"The fire crews were there straight away and we were moved on as they closed off the street. I’m not sure if it was a bomb but apparently two or three other unexploded devices were discovered. At this stage people did not seem to be panicking. It was more a case of stunned silence.
"In the evening the mood was pretty sombre. After a big city marathon there is usually a party atmosphere. People go out to celebrate following months of hard training. The streets were almost deserted. Many of the pubs and restaurants were closed as the runners just stayed in their hotels.
“A handful of runners just sat around watching the news in the hotel lobby. I met one man who had crossed the finishing line just a couple of minutes before the explosion. He said he initially thought it was a huge firework going off behind him. He was so happy with his run but his emotions changed in a split second.
“It had been a beautiful day in Massachusetts. The support along the whole course was amazing and it was one of the friendliest races I’ve ever taken part in. I had a bad time over the last few miles but the actual race result just seems irrelevant now.
“I was so drained at the finish line, feeling dizzy and stumbling around and the volunteers were so kind. A couple hours later they would have more serious things to worry about. I’m so thankful to have been out of harm’s way.
“My thoughts go out to all those people who were injured and the families of those who were killed. Boston is a great city and the people are rightly proud of their marathon which they have hosted since 1897.
“It was a privilege to take part in such a historic race and it is sad that the 117th Boston Marathon will be remembered for the wrong reasons.”
Mark competes in races across the world and travelled to Boston last week to compete in the 26-mile race.
Mark was the first British runner to complete the race and did so in 2 hours 34 minutes, coming 138th out of the 23,000 runners that took part. The race was Mark’s fifth marathon. He has also run in Berlin, Edinburgh, New York and London.