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Montana runners witness Boston Marathon tragedy

BILLINGS (AP) — None of the Montana runners participating in the Boston Marathon were injured when two explosions rocked the area near the finish line, but several who were nearby described the chaos and relief they felt because they and their loved ones were safe.

Rocky Mountain College cross country coach Alan King, 33, was eating lunch with his wife and 4-year-old son about a block from the finish line at the time of the explosions Monday afternoon.

He was the 100th person to finish the race about 2 1/2 hours earlier and said he wasn't aware of the explosions until they heard an announcement that the mall was being evacuated.

"Hundreds of ambulances and fire engines, you know, cops speeding down the road," he told KULR-TV. "And we just kind of watched them in disbelief and horror."

Their rental car was in a garage near the finish line, so they rented another car to drive to their hotel about 30 miles west of Boston, King said.

"We were blessed and fortunate to be together and to be safe and sound," King told The Billings Gazette. "That's the only thing I can think about."

Registered nurse Nancy Iverson, 52, of Billings, was nearing the finish line when she heard the blast. She stopped to offer assistance at the medical tent but was urged to get to safety, said Jim Duncan, president of the Billings Clinic Foundation.

Twenty-nine Montana runners finished the 26.2-mile race, while Iverson was one of three who did not.

Hamilton runner Dean Jordan, 50, had finished and was waiting for his fiancee, who also was running, when he heard the blast. He said he and his fiancee, who was held up with thousands of runners behind a police barricade, were able to call his mother and confirm the other was safe.

Missoula runner Sarah Stahl, 47, was waiting for her sister to finish when she learned about the blasts.

"I was talking to a guy from Minnesota about how grateful we were to be able to do this," she told the Missoulian. "He was talking about his family, that moment of feeling really appreciative, and then the world turns on its head."

Richard Briles, an emergency room physician at Kalispell Regional Medical Center, was excited about finishing with a personal best time when he learned about the explosions.

"I was on Cloud Nine, and then this happened," Briles said. "It's like, well, shoot, who cares (about) one guy running a good race? People's lives are changed forever."

Briles, 58, said as he watched news coverage of the explosions he called a local emergency room to offer his help. He said he was told if he wasn't licensed to practice in Massachusetts he probably couldn't get through security to get to the hospital.

Briles has run the last four Boston Marathons and it was his goal to run five straight, but Monday night he wasn't feeling like returning for the 2014 race.

"I don't think I will," Briles said. "Right now, it seems like the whole atmosphere is ruined."

Runner Eijai Oxford, 21, of Billings, said he, his sister and their parents were about 400 yards from the first blast.

"Everyone just went silent," he said. "It sounded like a building demolition or something like that."


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