Tampa runners return from Boston with stories to tell - WFLA News Channel 8

Tampa runners return from Boston with stories to tell

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

Several flights returning to Tampa from Boston carried bay area runners who competed in the Boston Marathon.

Tony Black has run the race nine times before. He described leaving Boston this time as an eerie experience.

"The runners were all leaving the city, and unlike most years, when it's very festive and people are congratulatory, it was sort of a subdued feeling," Black said, as he made his way through Tampa International Airport.

He had finished the 26.2 mile race before the two bombs exploded, but he said it didn't take long for him to find out what happened. He said he'll have to think before he decides to run Boston, or any other big marathon, from now on.

"It's probably impossible to secure a 26.2 mile route," he said.

Michelle Thames wore her finishers medal from the marathon when she got off the plane.

"Now it's got a lot of mixed emotions tied to it," she said.

Thames and her husband, Branon, left the city after the explosions. They stayed at a hotel at airport and got home to Tampa as soon as possible.

"I'm a little shell shocked now," she said, "but I do want to go back to show whoever did this, they have no power to destroy what is truly a magical event."

Dr. Bruce Shephard told waiting reporters nothing will keep him from the Boston Marathon again. Next year will be his 10th race, and it also coincides with his birthday.

"I'll definitely go back to Boston next year," he said.

But his partner, Coleen Christensen isn't so sure. The couple was staying at the Lennox Hotel, near the finish line. She felt the first bomb blast and saw first responders rushing to help the wounded.

"It was just so amazing to see everyone lying on the ground," she said.

Shephard was still out on the race course at the time.

"I was at mile 26 exactly when the first bomb went off," Shephard said. "I had two minutes to go to make my time, which was four hours and 10 minutes, and the clock read four hours and nine minutes."

When he saw the second bomb explode, Shephard and the other runners turned around and ran the other way up Boylston Street.

"It was clear there was something terribly wrong," he said.

Shephard ducked into a nearby furniture store for safety. But when he came out, he found he couldn't get back to his hotel, which was now part of the crime scene. He also didn't have his cell phone, so he and Christensen were separated for several hours until she found him.

"It was so amazing to see him finally walking up the street," she said. "It's a relief to be home. I'm glad we're home early."

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