One by one they came to Berkeley Street. The runner from Rome. The woman from Gloucester. The 71-year-old marathoner from California.
Each, still dazed, angry, and confused over Monday’s twin explosions, had come to collect the bags of stuff they left at the starting line of the 117th Boston Marathon. Normally, they would have been able to retrieve them on race day.
“I’m still kind of shell-shocked,’’ said Arthur Webb, of Santa Rosa, Calif., who froze when a truck rumbled nearby.
A runner with 100 marathons under his belt, he said he has never witnessed anything like what happened in Boston. He returned today to a spot at the corner of Berkeley and St. James Avenue, several blocks from the finish line, where Marathon officials were returning the runners’ belongings and giving them a medal, whether or not they finished the race.
They had all left a bit of themselves on that line – the months of hard training, the pride in how far they had come, the hope to finish the race.
Some made it to the very end before feeling the earth shake, their sense of safety shattered.
But some came so close and did not finish the race.
“We were almost there when a volunteer stopped us, and told us they were closing the race,’’ said Meghan Cole, a 25-year-old from Gloucester who was running her first marathon.
“I didn’t believe it. I thought it was a joke.’’
Runners described the chaos that followed, the frantic search for families, the happy reunions. The sad news over three deaths. All expressed dismay at the bombings and said prayers for those who suffered.
Francesco Iacovelli, 45, of Rome, said he had finished the race in just over three hours and was getting medical help for severe cramps when he heard the explosions.
“It sounded like thunderstorms,’’ he said.
His wife Rita was with their 12-year-old son at a nearby train station when they were told of the blasts. They tried to reach him, but could not because of the chaos that followed.
“I thought he was dead,’’ Rita said.
As a race official handed her bag and placed a blue and yellow medal over her head, Dana Krashin broke down in tears.
The Framingham native now lives in New York has long been a spectator of the race. But on Monday, she ran.
She had just finished the hills and was about to round a corner when the race was halted.
“When I think of so many people who are hurt during the marathon, it makes me really sad,’’ she said, weeping.