A Calgary-area runner says he had just crossed the finish line at the Boston Marathon when he heard the first of two bomb explosions that killed three people and injured many more.

"We all turned around and then we saw the explosion and it was right at the finish line," said Steve Smith of Bearspaw, Alta. "It echoed around the buildings and shook all the glass. My ears are still ringing from that one."

kirsten-ellen-fleming

Calgarian Kirsten-Ellen Fleming saw the immediate aftermath of the explosions. (LinkedIn)

Smith said he knew from the location of the smoke that people would be hurt.

"The medical tent is just past the finish line and people were rushing out from there to attend the people, and of course the police are everywhere, out for the Boston Marathon, so their reaction was instantaneous."

After the second blast, Smith said runners were told to get out of the area in as orderly a manner as possible, but it was difficult to move through the chaos to reach the waiting area for participants' families and his cell phone was not working.

"There were these heartache moments trying to connect with your partner," Smith said. "Finally we did connect and [what] instant relief that was."

'Chaos and mayhem'

Calgarian Kirsten-Ellen Fleming had been watching the race and then headed into a restaurant on the corner of Boylston Street and Newbury Street.

"We were coming out of the restaurant and there were two big explosions and a bunch of smoke… It was just immediate chaos and mayhem and confusion," she said.  

"Everyone was just in utter shock and looking around. "

Fleming, who is the executive director of a marathon race in Calgary, says the scene looked a bit like a war zone. While some confused runners were still racing, she said.

"Within a very short amount of time, minutes, there were just sirens everywhere," she said. 

"It just sounded like an absolute war zone. People were crying, on the pavement, like sitting down with their head between their knees. Everyone was on their phone, obviously calling loved ones to let them know they were okay."

Calgarians in Boston trying to connect  

Fleming says she is hoping to reach Calgary racers and their families who are in Boston.

"My heart absolutely goes out to the runners. I know a lot of Calgary runners that are here," she said.  "I just really hope everyone is okay. It sounds like a lot of people are injured. We’ve seen quite a few people with  bandages on their heads wandering away from the area just dazed and confused."

Calgary runner Jeremy Deere, who owns a running store, said considering the amount of security at the race the explosions are unbelievable. He said he saw many ambulances from his hotel window.

"There's six ambulances going by and then eight, and then a little break and then a whole bunch more and, you know, they were going both directions."