Barbara Johnson doesn't want to ever run the Boston Marathon again.
Minutes after crossing the finish line of the 117th edition of Monday’s prestigious race just under the four-hour mark — her first time competing in it — Johnson was about 300-feet away from the first of two explosions that left at least three dead and more than 140 injured Monday in Boston.
“It was scary; it was scary,” said Johnson, 57, of Copperas Cove.
“I heard the bomb and turned around and there was all this smoke. And then a few seconds after that there was another bomb.”
Two separate bombs exploded within seconds of each other about 500 feet apart along the north side of Boylston Street at about 3 p.m. EDT.
Among the dead was reportedly an 8-year-old boy, according to several national media reports.
Johnson, reached by phone by the Daily Herald while being holed up in a hotel room a mile from the bombing sites, was joined by fellow area runners Jerry and Brigette Sparks of Harker Heights, both of whom were also on the scene of the bombings.
Brigette Sparks was walking toward Boylston Street to meet up with her husband when she heard the explosion and then saw a mob running toward her.
“I went around that block because it was so full of people spectating, and I was walking toward Boylston and everybody started running towards my way, and one person said, ‘Run for your life,’ so I was running away from the direction of the finish line,” Brigette Sparks said, still shaken up. “I was following the crowd that was frantically running away.”
According to Jerry Sparks, a 60-year-old finance employee for the city of Killeen who has run the marathon every year since 2005, the first bomb exploded outside a sporting goods store where spectators were gathered to watch runners cross the finish line.
Sparks finished the marathon at the 03:51:06 mark, about 10 minutes before the first explosion, while Johnson finished in 3:59.17.
“It was very scary, because I was debating on my way down to go all out and PR really good or if I was going to take my time, (and) I decided to run it all the way out,” Johnson said. “That was so good, because (if I’d taken my time) by the time I made it, I would have been right there.”
Other area runners included Julia Perry, 40, also of Harker Heights, who crossed the finish line in just under 3 hours and 40 minutes, and Steven Allen, 55, and Samantha Allen, 23, of Temple, both of whom also finished the race.
According to the Boston Athletic Association website, of the 23,000 total competitors, there were 187 runners from the Austin area.