Edmonton runners were still shaken as they returned home one day after explosions killed three and injured more than 170 people at the Boston Marathon on Monday.
Two bombs went off near the finish line just around 12:50 p.m. MT Seventeen people remain in critical condition.
"There was a big kaboom and it felt like an earthquake," said Deveda Mah, who arrived home at the Edmonton International Airport Tuesday afternoon. "The ground literally shook."
Mah was just barely across the finish line when the first bomb went off.
"I saw this giant ball of smoke and then there was a second loud crash and the ground shook again. And by this time everyone was yelling and screaming and the police officers were telling us, 'Run! Run!'"
With the subways closed, Mah walked for 30 blocks before she found her hotel.
"I've never heard so many sirens in my whole life. It seemed that every firefighter and paramedic in that city was on their way there. It was just non-stop sirens."
She said she thinks about how lucky she was to have finished when she did.
"A bit of why me — why was I able to make it across? And why not others?"
But she vows to run again and not the let whoever is responsible to win.
"I don't think I want the terrorists or fear to hold us back from anything in life."
Marathoner feared for wife amidst chaos
Dwight Kroening was just a kilometre from the finish line when the race suddenly stopped. That’s when he heard people talking about an explosion at Copley Square.
"First thing that crossed my mind was, ‘How severe was it?" because I was concerned about my wife being there, waiting for me, at the finish line," he told CBC News Tuesday during a stopover at the airport in Montreal.
After waiting for about an hour and a half, Kroening and the other runners were shuttled over to Boston Common where they were to wait for their family and friends.
His cell phone was in his checked bag and when he tried borrowing phones to call his wife Colleen, service was down. He searched the crowd to see if Colleen would show up. Finally, after an hour and a half of waiting, she came up behind him.
"As soon as I turned around, there she was," he recounted, his voice breaking with emotion. "So we embraced for a couple more minutes. It was quite emotional."
Kroening received a heart transplant 27 years ago and runs to raise awareness about the need for organ donations.
He was even going to have his heart tested for research purposes after crossing the finish line.
But the bombings have caused Kroening to question whether he’ll take part in any more large events.
"It was horrible feeling to be here and cause you to reflect and think this is not a safe world any more," he said.
"Do I really want to be running these things regardless of why I do it, in terms of organ donations. It really makes you think twice when you look to travel."
Edmonton-based soldier ran 5th Boston Marathon
Dennene Huntley, a major in the Canadian Forces stationed in Edmonton, was also traveling home on Tuesday after running her fifth Boston Marathon.
Huntley finished about 35 to 45 minutes before the bombs went off. Like Kroening, she had difficulty connecting with friends and family by phone, and was finally able to let people know she was ok after posting a message on Facebook.
Huntley said that the bombing changed her perspective on the race.
"Celebration quickly turned to mourning," she said. "I had a very heavy heart for all of the people who experienced tragedy."
Runners across the country are now looking at ways to remember the victims.
Edmonton running and ski shop Fast Trax is holding a Boston Solidarity Run on Tuesday evening.
John Stanton, the Edmonton-based founder of the Running Room, said that his stores across the country will hold a moment of silence before participants head out for their regular Wednesday group runs.
"What we need to do as a community and society is respond to that and say, 'we're not going to accept your terror,'" he said
"We're going to turn that around and turn this into a positive response and a postive support for those affected."