At Boston Marathon blast scene, some grab mementos, others still stunned by violence

On Monday, thousands of runners were blanketed with free foil-like sheets to keep them warm after finishing the Boston Marathon.

Those discarded wraps were bunched together like curbside trash today, but several people grabbed one as a memento to the race that ended abruptly Monday with two explosions just blocks away.

Other people stood on Newbury Street, near barricades on Exeter, Fairfield, Gloucester, and Hereford streets and snapped pictures of the assemblage of media, military vehicles and soldiers, and of the white tents on Boylston Street that suddenly became field emergency rooms for those injured by the blasts.

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On occasion, small convoys of Boston police cruisers or military trucks sped by, horns blaring and lights flashing, breaking the eerie calm of the day after.

There were plenty of runners out on morning jogs, as well as marathon tourists enjoying breakfast and one last walk through the heart of the city before heading to the airport and back home.

Their walks, of course, didn’t include the 12-block zone that is now off-limits to pedestrians and car traffic, the zone centered by the two explosion sites.

Among those who walked the perimeter of the restricted area was a Canadian marathoner who beat his personal best by 15 seconds, a 65-year-old California woman who was stopped just blocks from the finish, and a Braintree man who was touring Washington, D.C., when the explosions occurred.

Tom McGrath, 25, of Edmonton, Canada, ran a 2:31 in his 13th marathon, had showered and was eating lunch in a restaurant 10 blocks from the finish line when the explosion occurred.

“All of a sudden I got a text message from my coach back home in Edmonton,” he said today, standing at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Boylston Street.

“It’s really surreal, it’s still hard to imagine. It’s supposed to be the greatest celebration of running on earth... you walk down here and you see this, just awful.”

Kathy Broder, 65, of Camarillo, Califo., was entering the 26th mile in her 30th marathon and could hear the screams of encouragement coming from spectators assembled along those last few blocks of the race when it happened.

“When I heard about what happened, it didn’t matter, the marathon didn’t matter anymore,” she said, walking down Newbury Street.

“Such a tragedy, but I probably will return,’’ she added. “I can’t imagine it would happen a second time.”

Michael Gale, 41, of Braintree was on a tour bus on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., taking in the sights with his 11-year-old son, Jason, when the explosions hit.

“Everyone was stunned,” he said of the reaction on the bus. “We cut the trip a day short, D.C. started shutting things down,” Gale said.

He added, “we come here almost every weekend and I never thought I would see something like this here. I feel bad for all the families... that little boy who died, it’s so awful.”

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