BOSTON, MA -- "It was like, 'Okay, this sound isn't right. The amount of smoke isn't right. This is not good,'" Sam Wittenberg of Virginia Beach told 13News by telephone Monday night.
Wittenberg crossed the Boston Marathon finish line a few minutes before two bombs detonated near it. He and friends were a couple of streets away in the finishers' area when the explosions took place.
"The sound was not the type of thing you hear on a daily basis," said Wittenberg. "Everybody around us was thinking the same thing, you know: 'I don't want to think what it is, but we all, sadly , know. We think it was a bomb.' We did not think that this was an accidental type of explosion."
"I guess is the world is going a little bit crazy," local running expert Mel Williams said. "Running, we think, is one of the purest sports out there. I'm just devastated that this has happened."
Williams, who has done many marathons and is friends with Wittenberg, watched coverage of the bombings in Norfolk.
"Basically, it's the Mecca for all runners to go and run Boston. Everybody wants to do it at least one time to say they've run Boston, because it's the highlight of somebody's running career.," noted Williams.
"There's a lot of people that go every year, and, you know, we see a lot of people that come through the store," explained Mark Manny, Manager of Running Etc.'s location in Virginia Beach.
The running store fielded calls from customers who were concerned about locals who were in Boston for the marathon.
"I think all runners feel like they're connected to every runner," Manny said.
"What I did," Wittenberg told 13News, "is, you know, a personal achievement, and it's a personal memory, but, you know, when I'm talking with friends now, we're not talking about 'How was your time?' and 'How did you feel?' and 'How did the race go?' Everything is everybody's well being and how tragic that this is."