Five Tucson runners gathered a few blocks from the finish line Monday to celebrate their achievements in the Boston Marathon.

They were sharing smiles and stories about the run at the family meeting area "when a tremendous boom came, followed by a second one," said Tucson athlete Keith Schlottman.

Everything got very quiet, then confusion set in, and then people started evacuating, he said.

Later, they learned about the bombs and the victims.

"It just absolutely breaks my heart," Schlottman said. "It's just terribly sad, and it's sad that this has happened to a sport that celebrates achievement and accomplishment."

"It's a freedom they're attempting to steal from us ... but I hope running can still go on and be a form of happiness and joy that it always is," he said.

In all, 47 locals were in the race.

Tucson athlete Shirley Reilly had finished the race about an hour before the explosions and was in her hotel room when she heard the blasts.

Looking out her window, "it was kind of crazy," she said. "There was a lot of smoke, and I saw a lot of people running away from that smoke. It was kind of scary."

"I'm really sad," she said. "My thoughts and prayers go out to the people who have been injured or died."

Former Arizona Wildcats and NFL star Tedy Bruschi was watching from a finish-line-area hotel, too, and was evacuated.

Staffers and runners from the charity team he sponsors were all accounted for, a message on the charity's Facebook page stated. "We send our thoughts and prayers to the rest of Boston."

Facebook became a gathering place for Tucson runners and their friends and families, especially the Southern Arizona Roadrunners page.

About 20 of the 47 local runners in the marathon are Roadrunners members, and others have been members in the past, said spokesman Randy Accetta.

Facebook was "an awesome resource" and "a helpful place" Monday as locals at the marathon checked in to say they were safe, he said.

On StarNet: View more photos from the Boston Marathon at

Sports Editor Ryan Finley contributed to this report. Contact reporter Becky Pallack at or 573-4346. On Twitter @beckypallack