The Boston Marathon attracts runners and spectators from around the world, and local athletes were in the middle of the chaos.
Many runners made the drive back to Berks County on Tuesday, after the "mecca of marathons" was marred by tragedy.
Two explosions, seconds apart, turned triumph at the finish line to absolute chaos. Spectators and runners ducked for cover.
Scott Lowry, of Fleetwood, crossed the line only about four minutes before the first blast.
"One more stop and walk and I would have been crossing that finish line," recounted Lowry, who ran in Boston for the first time.
Lowry said he knew something was wrong when police told everyone to get out, and ambulances were rushed in.
"All of a sudden this commotion began with the volunteers, you hear this buzz of should we be leaving the area what are we supposed to do?" he recounted.
Shards of metal, nails and ball bearings caused the carnage in Copley Square, said officials.
Nancy Sensenig completed the race and received her medal. She heard the explosions from two blocks away. Sensenig drove back to Wyomissing on Monday night.
"Reality was starting to sink into our hearts, that it could have been a very difficult situation that we didn't even realize," said Sensenig, who drove back with her friend who was in the crowd.
Runners were left frantic. Lowry tried to notify his wife Carol, who stood near the finish line.
"Calls aren't going through, text messages aren't going through and the longer your phone tries to dial your phone is going dead," said Lowry.
Craig Peiffer fulfilled his dream Monday. He trained for months and finished the race in about 3 hours, 4 minutes. Peiffer works in the zoning department for the city of Reading. He was back at the finish line Tuesday.
"Everything we missed out on yesterday, that comradery that runners share, we're getting back today," said Peiffer, who said runners went from a tremendous high to an all-time low.
Many of the runners from Berks County had their jackets and jerseys on in support of the victims, and they said they would run again next year.