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D.C.-area runners reflect on a tragic marathon day in Boston

Tuesday - 4/16/2013, 6:30am  ET

The 117th Boston Marathon started out normally, but ended in tragedy. (AP)
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WASHINGTON - Marathon day in Boston is a day traditionally filled with eager runners, packed bars and sidewalks overflowing with supporters, signs and cheers. But the 117th Boston Marathon deviated drastically from tradition.

Two bombs exploded in the packed streets near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Boylston Street Monday. The incident resulted in chaos, casualties and mass injuries.

An estimated 23,000 runners participated in the race, many of whom traveled hundreds of miles to complete the 26.2-mile race.

Lauren Gabler lives in D.C. and was in Boston for the marathon. She finished the race about 15 minutes prior to the first explosion.

Gabler was on the city's renowned Newbury Street, recapping the race on the phone with her mother, when she felt the explosion.

"I felt the explosion and thought, ‘Oh that feels horrible,'" Gabler told WTOP on Monday. "It felt like a shake. It rocked my core. It was something that I've never felt before."

Gabler says at first, people on the crowded street just seemed confused. However, she said the second explosion cause a bit more concern.

"A few seconds later, sirens started going off. That's when most people started walking quickly and I thought, ‘This is not a time to finish your lunch, this is a time to get out of the area,'" Gabler said.

Anthony Moulton used to live in Arlington, Va., and also was in Boston for the marathon.

He told WTOP he was also confused by the first explosion.

"I just sort of continued on my way because there was some confusion as to whether or not it might have been a transformer. And at that point it was a little frenzy where people just naturally went away from the area where it occurred," he said.

Moulton explained that even after the explosion, some people were unaware of what was going on. He said some people were still waiting in line to get into bars, while others were more frantic, running away from the action near the finish line.

Moulton describes the second explosion as a "muffled boom."

"The next thing I knew was my ankle was getting plowed over by a woman with a stroller," says MouIton, who said that is when he realized something was not right.

"As soon as the second one occurred it was like the city went wild. All you could hear were sirens."

Local runner Maria Kozloski witnessed the blasts from her hotel room, where she was resting after finishing the race.

"We saw smoke just pluming up in the air," says Kozloski, who said she instantly knew something was wrong when she saw people scattering everywhere. "It was being cleared out fast."

Kozloski -- who has participated in Boston before -- described the day as "surreal."

"I've done Boston a few times before so to see this happen was pretty sad. You just don't think anything is really going to happen," she said.

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