SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - More than 30 runners from Santa Barbara were in Boston for the marathon and many are returning home tonight.
Two runners who were very close to the explosions walked away from the tragic event and spoke with NewsChannel 3 from Massachusetts about the two blasts on Boylston Street that shook a nation.
Local runners in Boston for the prestigious marathon are trying to piece together what happened the day before.
"It was a very large bomb. Everybody could feel it. We had buildings between us -- that's how strong that bomb was," explained Nancy Kaplan, a Santa Barbara resident.
Kaplan had just crossed the finish line and was two blocks away near her hotel. Now her hotel is swarming with law enforcement officials and investigators.
"Every where you look, it's military. There are men with machine guns in our hotel," she said.
Outside her window, Kaplan described SWAT cars, K-9 units and black SUVs lining the streets.
One photo showed a block with trash cans all on their sides with no one in sight, which was a very different scene from Monday.
"What happened? Did the finish line just blow up?" said Rachael Plourde Young as she recalled the tragedy.
Young is a former Santa Barbara resident and lives in Cape Cod. She was just yards from the finish line when the first blast happened.
She found herself in a picture that showed just how close she was.
"Had I been even five, 10 seconds faster, you know, I was right there," she said.
This was Young's fifth Boston Marathon but it ended quite differently than the ones before. She and other participants had to turn around and run the other way after the first blast.
"We started running back and it was calm and there were no more explosions right away. So we thought, 'Are we overreacting? Maybe it's just an electrical fire.' And we turned around and started heading to the finish line again and then we heard the second explosion and then we thought 'this is crazy; we have to get out of here,'" she said.
Young was never able to cross the finish line, but looking back, she said it's not important now.
Both Young and Kaplan said they will be back again next year for the Boston Marathon.