BOSTON (WRCB) -- A series of explosions that rocked the historic Boston Marathon sent shockwaves from coast to coast Monday afternoon, many of them felt here in the Tennessee Valley.
At least 20 runners with ties to the Chattanooga area were in Boston for the world's oldest annual 26.2-mile race, while several other locals were among the spectators at the event.
"It was just pure chaos," said Soddy-Daisy's Trish Newsom, who crossed the finish line less than ten minutes before the first explosion. ""I was just a few blocks up that street, so I heard it and felt it. I turned around and I could see the smoke.
"At first no one knew what was happening, so all the volunteers and the police were all rushing towards the scene."
Newsom spent the next 15 minutes searching for her husband, Mike, who was supposed to be sitting in the VIP grandstands that were positioned near the blast.
"Those few minutes felt infinitely longer than the marathon itself," she recalled in a cell phone conversation with Channel 3.
It turns out Mike wasn't in the grandstands, and the two soon reconnected on the street a short time later.
"We've just been thanking the Lord all day that he had his protection over both of us," an emotional Newsom said.
Channel 3 has been able to confirm most of the other local participants are also safe, including 74-year-old Bud Wisseman, who was about a mile from the finish line when the first explosion occurred.
Wisseman, who was running in his 24th consecutive Boston Marathon, was later safely reunited with his wife, Sonia, who had been waiting to cheer him on about a half-mile from the location of the blast.
The Chattanooga Track Club released a statement through its Facebook page after learning of the tragedy.
"We at the Chattanooga Track Club are very shocked and saddened by the horrific events today at the Boston Marathon. A day that is supposed to be about celebrating the great accomplishments and hard work of thousands of runners has turned into a day of tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. We also express concern for our Chattanooga runners and we hope that they are all safe and that they can return home safely."
Many of the local runners are affiliated with the Hixson-based club, including 35-year-old Teri Akovenko, who posted on the club's page that all Chattanooga Track Club members in Boston were safe.
Lee University president Paul Conn was also in Boston with his wife, Darlia, to watch the race. He relayed their safety through his Twitter page late Monday afternoon.
"Darlia & I are safe. Thnx for your calls. We were @ Marathon finish line, but left site 90 mins before bombs. Shocking beyond words. So sad," he wrote.
Among those with University of Tennessee at Chattanooga ties were former Lady Mocs' cross country star Emmie Stuart, whose sister reported her safety on Twitter shortly after the blast.
UTC professor Joe Dumas was also in the race. His wife, Cheree, relayed their safe escape from harm's way via Facebook.
"Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. I just got back to the room and Joe is on his way," Cheree Dumas wrote. "It's complete chaos here. Found more bombs around town. Cops and bomb squads are everywhere."
Two local runners may have received a blessing in disguise by not making the trip to Boston. Chattanooga's Roger Cunningham and Alan Outlaw both qualified and registered for the race, but pulled out and never left the Scenic City.
As for those in Boston, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience at the pinnacle of marathons that will now be remembered for very different reasons.
"I don't even know my time. It's all put into perspective now," Newsom said. "It doesn't matter what time we ran. What matters are the lives of these people that have been lost and their families. My request is prayers for these families, prayers for the first responders, and the investigators who are trying to figure out what happened, because it's chaotic.
"This race is about celebrating life and celebrating dreams, and someone took that away from a lot of people and their families today."
Below is a list of the local runners registered for this year's marathon. We will continue to update conditions as we learn details.
If you have information on any of these runners, especially Beth Rice or Claudio Verzilli, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local runners registered include:
- Teri Akovenko, 35, Chattanooga - Finished at 2:34 p.m. ET - Uninjured
- Sue Barlow, 48, Chattanooga - Finished at 2:30 p.m. ET - Uninjured
- Ray Beem, 50, Apison - Uninjured
- Roger Cunningham, 61, Chattanooga - Uninjured -- did not run
- Matthew Amick, 35, Ringgold - Uninjured
- Bud Wisseman, 73, Chattanooga -Uninjured
- Emmie Stuart, former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga runner - Uninjured
- Anthony Grossi, 52, Chattanooga - Uninjured
- Ryan Shrum, 45, East Ridge - Uninjured
- Beth Rice, 54, Chattanooga - Finished 2:35 p.m. ET
- Jacquie Winters, 56, Chattanooga - Uninjured
- Alan Outlaw, 25, Chattanooga - Uninjured -- did not run
- Kevin Huwe, 26, Chattanooga - Finished 12:50 p.m. ET -- Uninjured
- Jessica Marlier, 27, Ooltewah - Finished 1:07 p.m. ET - Uninjured
- Trish Newsom, 44, Soddy Daisy - Uninjured
- Holly Swinea, 38, Hixson - Uninjured
- Claudio Verzilli, 52, Apison
- Lisa Logan, 41, Ringgold - Uninjured
- Mike Sweeney, 47, Rocky Face - Uninjured
- Randy Lyle - Uninjured
- Joe Dumas - Signal Mountain - Uninjured
Google has activated its Person Finder for the Boston Marathon Explosion.