“I was walking right toward the finish line and I saw one explosion of white smoke and a simultaneous blast then again was the loudest thing I've heard in my life,” Rick Hanson of Sioux Falls said. “It's very disorienting, like being slapped in the face, you're just stunned for a moment.”
Hanson finished about nine minutes before the blast. He went back looking for his running partner just before the bombs went off. He saw the chaos as spectators ran for safety.
Groton, SD native, Rick Kammerer, was farther away with his family. He finished the race about 20 minutes before the bombs detonated. Kammerer and his family had just begun a walk back to their nearby hotel when the ground shook.
“We were in a big city and didn't think a whole lot about it,” Kammerer said. “About ten seconds later there was a big explosion and you could feel a vibration.”
Kammerer's hotel went on lockdown into the evening. He said only emergency workers filled the streets outside.
“We are still [locked down]. There's a 15-block radius where they're not letting any traffic in or out. We are in that area,” Kammerer said.
This was neither man's first Boston Marathon. Both are seasoned runners. But South Dakota also had a big winner in this race overshadowed by violence.
“The whole entire experience is not the same now since all this happened. It's really kind of tragic and not cool,” former University of South Dakota distance runner Matt Dewald said.
Dewald finished 20th, long before the bombs went off. He was back in a hotel miles away when the smoke rose.
“It was just really, really an eerie sensation and an eerie feeling just the scene outside, being a mile away. People were just carrying themselves a little differently,” Dewald said.
None of the runners said the events would keep them from coming back though. The marathon is considered Boston’s big day and is one of the most challenging marathon courses.