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Central Virginians in Boston React to Marathon Explosions - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Central Virginians in Boston React to Marathon Explosions

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Running the Boston Marathon is a dream for runners of all skill levels.  Many train for years to qualify for the race and then make it a destination vacation. On Monday, many runners' vacations turned quickly to chaos as two explosions went off near the finish line of the marathon around 3 p.m. 

According to the marathon's official website, more than 600 runners in Monday's race were from Virginia - 31 from Charlottesville.

Every member of the Ragged Mountain Running Team has been accounted for and is OK. They are all grouped in a hotel about a quarter of a mile from the crime scene.

One man with the group says he was in the stands across from where it all happened.

"I was standing maybe 50-60 feet from it and nothing out of the ordinary, nothing strange, just watching the runners come in and all of the sudden you heard what sounded like a cannon fire," said Michael Butcher.

The Ragged Mountain Running Shop in Charlottesville helps train people for the marathon. Mike Gaffney, a Charlottesville marathon runner and member of the Ragged Mountain Running team, says it's an annual event for them.

The owner of Ragged Mountain Running Shop, Mark Lorenzoni, is in Boston coaching some of those Charlottesville marathoners.

"The very first reaction was: 'is everybody in? Let's check, let's take stock.' It's very very spiritual in a sense of how everything else was forgotten. And so there's definitely uncertainty, people are, there was a lot of crying. Particularly when people were still worried about people being out there," said Lorenzoni.

Part of the Ragged Mountain Running team is supposed to return Monday night, while the rest are scheduled to return Tuesday morning.

NBC29 has also been in touch with some people from the University of Virginia who are in Boston and say they are safe.

Mary Nelson, a UVA student who finished the race just 20 minutes before the pair of explosions, says she was about a half-mile away at the refreshment stands when she heard a loud boom.

"As we were walking, one really loud explosion sound, which sounded really similar to a cannon going off, which is what I thought it was, and then shortly after there was another loud boom so it sounded like something really big something falling or a cannon, that's what it sounded like," Nelson said.

Nelson says at first she was not too alarmed, but once she saw the number of police cars and ambulances, she knew something was wrong.

Waynesboro runner Timothy Freeze came through the finish line just minutes before the bombs went off.

"Well, I had just finished the race and I had pushed myself a little bit hard at the end for some reason. I picked up my bag - my drop bag that had my clothes in it. I met up with my wife and we heard two loud explosions, and they were echoing off the buildings. I told her - I mean it sounded like a big explosion. I said, ‘this is bad.' Right away we were trying to get out of the area and get to a subway. They had closed all the subways in the downtown area, so we ended up walking partway out of town till we got to where the trains were running. Just thankful that we're okay," Freeze said.

NBC29 has also spoken with Caitlin Alexander, a UVA alumna who had joined her boyfriend in Boston to cheer him on.

"We saw a few people who were injured, we saw one girl who must have been hit by a piece of glass, her face was bleeding and she was just completely in shock. We saw another girl who had just a gash, a huge gash in her leg, sitting on the side of the street. Other than that, a few minutes after it happened, cell reception completely went out," Alexander said.

Alexander says she and her boyfriend were one block from the finish line when they heard what sounded like a firework or a gun shot. But when she heard the second explosion, she says she knew something was wrong.


Office of Governor Bob McDonnell
Press Release

BEIJING- Governor Bob McDonnell issued the following statement this evening following news of explosions at the Boston Marathon. The governor is currently in China on a trade mission. Chief of Staff Martin Kent briefed the governor by phone about this developing situation.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Boston, and with marathon participants and attendees from around the country and the world, including many from here in Virginia, following the tragic events of this afternoon. There are no words that can properly express our grief and our concern. I have asked members of our Administration to immediately offer any and all assistance that Virginia can provide to Massachusetts in the days ahead. This is a sad day, but America is the strongest and greatest nation the world has ever known. When we face tragedy, we respond with unity, courage and resilience. We've seen that already this afternoon, from the very first reactions to this event. I know we will continue to see that kind of response from Boston in the days and weeks ahead. Virginia stands ready to help our friends in Massachusetts in any way possible."

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