LUDLOW -- Anne Gullickson of Kingston, N.Y., had just finished the Boston Marathon, had just heard the explosions, and was ready to look for some of her Kingston-area friends who were either still running or had finished the race.
"We were going to go to the finish line to see if everyone was OK," she said. "This lady came up to me and said, ‘Don't go anywhere near [the finish line]. There's blood. It's a mess. Please don't even look at it.'
"Then I said: ‘Oh my God. This is bad.' "
Gullickson and two other runners from the Kingston area -- including the daughter of former heavyweight boxing champion Floyd Patterson -- were relaxing Tuesday morning at the Ludlow reststop on the Massachusetts Turnpike, less than 24 hours after the Boston Marathon began.
Two bombs exploded near the finish line Monday afternoon, killing three and injuring more than 170 in what President Obama is calling an act of terrorism carried out by either one person or a group.
Gullickson, 49, along with friends Jennifer Jankowski, 44, of Kingston, and Fred Stewart, 65, of Bloomington, N.Y., were among the more than 23,000 runners who had gathered in Hopkinton for the start of the race into downtown Boston.
Jankowski's father is Patterson, the heavyweight champion for parts of the 1950s and ‘60s. He died in 2006 in New Paltz at the age of 71.
While some 4,000 runners did not get to finish the Boston Marathon on Monday, Gullickson, Jankowski and Stewart were across the finish line before the explosions rocked the area.
"We were [all] together in the family and friends meeting area, which was a block away," Jankowski said. "We did hear the huge explosion -- the boom, boom -- and we saw the smoke. We didn't know initially what had happened. But we could tell from people around us that whatever it was wasn't right."
Jankowski ran the race in 3 hours, 17 minutes, 20 seconds. Gullickson finished in 3:33:36, and Stewart's time was 3:41:42.
Video of the explosions shows the race clock at 4 hours, 5 minutes, so the three runners were relaxing from their runs before the incident.
"I had aspirations of running under 3:20," Gullickson said. "I had a really rough day. There were times when [she] said, ‘I just want to walk. I'm done with this marathon.' "
Had Gullickson and another Kingston-area runner decided to walk for part of the race, they might not have cleared the finish line before the bombs went off.
"Who knows why we didn't," Gullickson said.
Gullickson and Stewart were staying at the Boston Marriott at Copley Place on Huntington Avenue, just off the finish area. Some of their friends also were staying in the Marriott and said they felt the hotel shake after the explosions.
Gullickson said she initially thought it might have been a transformer explosion or something similar. Once it was determined what happened, nobody was allowed in or out of the area.
"It was unbelievable. We were in lockdown all night," Gullickson said. "We would have been on our way home [Monday]."
Stewart said he was watching law enforcement officials for much of the evening.
"I looked out our hotel room [window], and I counted 60 FBI, police or ATF cars below us," he said. "The streets were empty."
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