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April 21, 2014

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Blasts transform ‘beautiful day’ for Las Vegas marathoners in Boston

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WBZTV / AP

In this image from video provided by WBZ TV, spectators and runners run from what was described as twin explosions that shook the finish line of the Boston Marathon, Monday, April 15, 2013, in Boston. Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts.

Updated Monday, April 15, 2013 | 5:58 p.m.

Boston Marathon Explosion

In this Monday, April 15, 2013 photo, Boston Firefighter James Plourde carries an injured girl away from the scene after a bombing near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston. The FBI's investigation into the bombings at the Boston Marathon was in full swing Tuesday, with authorities serving a warrant on a suburban Boston home and appealing for any private video, audio and still images of the blasts that killed at least three and wounded more than 170. Launch slideshow »

Monday was an unforgettable day for Las Vegas marathoner Tiffanie Gaspar, but not for the reason she was expecting.

Gaspar ran in her first Boston Marathon, finishing in 3:45.43. But about 25 to 30 minutes after she completed the 26.2-mile course, while she was cooling down in the family waiting area, Gaspar heard the booms.

“It was two explosions, unusual sounds,” Gaspar said in a telephone interview from her Boston hotel. “I thought, ‘Oh, it’s Patriots' Day. Maybe it’s fireworks from the Red Sox game.'”

The police officers she saw scurrying through the area told her the noises weren’t from fireworks.

Two bombs detonated near the finish line of the world-famous marathon, killing two people and injuring at least 100 others.

Gaspar said her husband, sister and daughter were actually closer to the explosions but all were safe.

Jerry Slater, 46, of Henderson, a civil engineer and partner at the Slater Hanifan Group in Las Vegas, said he had finished the race about 45 minutes earlier and was showering in his room at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel when “I definitely heard the explosions go off.”

At 5:30 p.m. Boston time, Slater said the hotel was still on lockdown. Outside the hotel, which is just across the way from where the explosions took place, dozens of police, firefighters and other emergency workers were still swarming.

“I feel safe, but then I keep watching the news and seeing these reports of other devices being found,” he said.

In all, about 40 runners from the Las Vegas Valley were among the nearly 27,000 participants in Monday’s Boston Marathon. It was not immediately known whether any of them were injured in the twin blasts that took place about 100 yards apart from each other.

Friends of Alisa Brooks, 37, of Las Vegas, posted on Facebook that she had crossed the finish line about 20 minutes before the explosions and was safely back in her hotel.

John Noel, of Las Vegas, said his daughter, Hillary Brimhall, 31, of Henderson, had also finished the Boston course well ahead of the blasts.

"She's just fine," Noel said.

Gaspar said the race had been a wonderful experience.

“The weather was perfect. There were fans all along the course. It was a really great atmosphere running through all of the little towns. It really was inspiring,” she said.

Then came the news of the deadly explosions.

“I feel really terrible for the people who were injured and all of the other runners who weren’t able to finish (because of the explosions),” she said.

Monday marked the fourth time Slater had run the Boston Marathon, and “it’s definitely a different atmosphere,” he said.

Slater and Gaspar said they didn’t know any of the other Las Vegas runners in the race but said they were hoping for their safety, as well.

The Boston Athletic Association, which sponsors the Boston Marathon, listed 85 runners from Nevada in this year’s race. Ashley Hall, a runner from Reno, posted on Facebook that all runners from Northern Sierra Endurance Training were safe and accounted for in Boston.

Las Vegas resident Dave Kirvin has run the Boston Marathon four times, the last in 2012, and did not run this year because he failed to meet the qualifying time.

“As an amateur athlete it’s one of the best things you can do,” Kirvin said. “My wife ran it three times, and I was discussing with her that after an event like this part of me doesn’t want to do big events anymore, and part of me wants to train to get back there next year and not be deterred.”

The Reno Gazette Journal is reporting that a Reno couple, Frank and Marilyn Kight, were injured by the blast while watching their daughter Amy Blomquist race.

Sun staff writer Tovin Lapan contributed to this report.

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