Utah runners share their stories: 'There was just chaos'

354 Utahns registered for today's Boston Marathon

Published: Monday, April 15 2013 2:20 p.m. MDT

Daniel Mauer watches news reports at Salt Lake Running Company in Salt Lake City Monday, April 15, 2013, after explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — When Centerville grandmother Jolene Keate heard an explosion as she counted down the minutes to the finish line of her second Boston Marathon Monday, she experienced a rush of emotions.

"All of a sudden the runners were stopped," Keate, 61, said, her voice still shaking hours later. "I was disappointed because I was having such a great race. Then I heard it was an explosion and I was just upset about the people."

Including her husband, Jeff, who had jumped on the subway to meet his wife at the finish line after cheering her on at 'Heartbreak Hill' about 21 miles into the 26.2 mile race through the Massachusetts capitol. 

The couple found each other, and Keate said she shared the cell phone she carried with other runners anxious to connect with loved ones waiting for them near the blast site, less than three-quarters of a mile away.

Police rushed them away from the scene, she said, and she saw little of the devastation left behind. "I couldn't really see any of the damage," she said, but feared the worst for a city that had rallied "an amazing, amazing crowd" all along the race route.

There were more 354 Utahns registered for the Boston Marathon, which fielded more than 26,000 runners. Among them was Gov. Gary Herbert's oldest daughter, Kim Cahoon. 

The governor's office said Cahoon finished about an hour before the blasts and was not a witness. Herbert said in a statement issued later Monday that "as grateful as I am that my daughter is safe and was not nearby when the bombs went off, I am deeply shocked and saddened by this tragedy.

"This hits home, not only because my daughter was there, but also because many other Utahns participated in the race today," the governor said, adding that he and his wife "are appalled by what happened and offer our thoughts and prayers to the families of those who lost their lives and to the many who were injured."

The blast

Runner Cynthia Garcia of Layton was close enough to the blasts that she saw some injured men running toward her. "They were shattered and they were bloodied and their legs were black," she said. 

Garcia's voice broke as she described searching in the mayhem for her own family members, shaken and cold in her running gear, before finally spotting them on the street nearly an hour later.

"I heard some tragic things, that limbs were lost, lives were taken," she said. "I'm so grateful, and I'm sorry that other people's lives were taken and I don't want to be selfish but I am glad we are together."   

Lamar Layton of Draper said he was seated in the bleachers at the finish line with his granddaughter, who has Rett Syndrome, waiting for her parents to complete what for them was a race to raise money to help battle the rare form of autism.

"There were just a lot of runners and everybody was real excited. All of sudden, we just heard this tremendous explosion about 50 yards to the right of us and looked over and there was just this great big plume of smoke," Layton said by phone from Boston.

The second blast came from across the street, he said. "It shook the ground. As soon as that went off, everybody just started screaming and yelling and the police came and asked us to evacuate the area as quick as we could."

Layton, who later was able to reach his son and daughter-in-law via a text message, said his first thought was, " 'This can't be happening.' You know, it takes you right back to 9-11."

South Ogden painting contractor Manny Cypers said he was tired but happy after completing his first Boston Marathon in just over three hours when he met his wife and friends at a hotel near the finish line.

Then they stepped outside into a nightmare.

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