ROCHESTER Minn. (FOX 47) -- Just a day after the tragedy at the Boston Marathon, local runners are starting to return to Rochester.
They bring medals, souvenirs and stories.
Normally a symbol of accomplishment, this year's Boston Marathon Runners wear a symbol of witness and survival.
"This is the medal that they put around my neck just a few minutes before the explosion," said Maureen Jones, a Rochester runner who finished just minutes before the first explosion.
Jones was only about a block away when the first bomb went off.
"I thought it was a fire work or some other kind of celebratory type of noise," Jones said.
But as the veteran marathoner turned to comfort other worried runners, those possibilities vanished.
"Then the second explosion happened almost right away," Jones said. "Then we saw a lot of smoke."
Then the gravity of what may have happened began to sink in.
"I started thinking that I had just seen my family a few minutes ago at the finish line and that's where the explosions where," Jones said.
Jones reunited with her friends and family. They were all safe. After they were rushed away from the scene, they saw the first images on television of the tragedy that happened just feet from where they stood.
For a runner still rattled, a day later it's better to focus on lives saved rather than lives lost.
"There's a lot of heroes," Jones said. "I mean for everything bad that happened and all the people that were injured and lost their lives, the heroes were incredible."
For Jones and other runners, yesterday's race was supposed to be when months and years of training paid off. Instead it ended in a way no race should ever end.
"In Boston they have heartbreak hill, and if you can get up that last hill, heartbreak hill, that's a big feat they say," Jones said. "Everybody's hearts were broken in Boston yesterday."
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