SARASOTA - In total, 18 runners from the Suncoast participated in this year's tragic Boston Marathon. All are believed to be okay.
Holly Johnson from Sarasota and Fernanda Cordoba-Scalera of Lakewood Ranch finished the race before the bombs went off. Both are physically okay, but they witnessed the chaotic aftermath unfolding before their eyes.
They are images that will stick with the two runners for the rest of their lives.
Monday's deadly blasts in Boston sent shockwaves throughout the nation. Perhaps the most stunned are those who ran the race. “It's very surreal. You can’t process it. You can't imagine anybody being so sick and evil to do something like that,” says Johnson.
Holly Johnson, a 52-year-old from Sarasota, finished the race only 15 minutes before the two explosions. I sat down to put my dress on. I heard a large explosion. I thought to myself that doesn't sound good. I heard a 2nd one and said now, that's really not good. I think i need to get out of here.”
Fernanda Cordoba-Scalera crossed the finish line ahead of Johnson. She was walking back to her hotel with her husband and two children. “All of a sudden, all mayhem broke loose. There were police rushing from every direction, ambulances, firefighters…there were people crying and we started smelling gun powder.”
It's a day both women knew they would never forget, but unfortunately it turned out to be for a different reason, one that they could never imagine.
Out of the 18 runners from the Suncoast, 11 in this year's Boston Marathon listed Sarasota as their hometown. Five were from Bradenton, one from North Port, and one from Venice.