Boston Marathon bombing: Local D.C. area runners return from marathon shaken

When the bombs went off, the memory of Jessica Hofheimer's first Boston Marathon was shattered.

The Reston runner returned to D.C. Tuesday, bittersweetly showing off her marathon medal.

“There's nothing like the Boston Marathon. I saw it all for the first time. I thought it was a dream and it quickly turning into a nightmare,” she says.

Lauren Gabler had just crossed the finish line when she heard the blast. She said it shook her to her core.

The veteran runner has participated in four Boston Marathons. But this one is giving her new perspective.

“Any trivial things that happen that day are no longer a big deal because lives were lost,” she says. “People were very injured and the city is very sullen today.”

Local runners quietly filed off mid-morning flights. They lacked the bravado that would normally come from someone who had just achieved an athletic triumph.

Jackie Williams was unable to finish the race for which she had trained for, for months.

“I'm a little heartbroken but in the big scheme of things life is long and my heart goes out to all the people that … little boy went to see someone finish and never made it home. That's much more important,” Williams says.

Getting out alive was all John Walls was thinking as his cell phone camera recorded the desperate rush of the crowd away from the scene of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Sitting in the stands, waiting for wife Cindy and daughter Katie to cross the finish line, Walls, from Arlington, was less than 100 feet from the first blast.

“It’s like a canon went off, you see this huge orange ball, this flame erupt and smoke,” Walls says. “Where there were people standing just seconds ago there was nobody. They were down. They were gone.”

His wife and daughter were running through the streets of Boston but were blocked from entering certain areas. But John eventually met back up with them.

They were met at Reagan National airport by his other two daughters. The Walls family is back together after dodging death by just feet.

“A sigh of relief that it’s all done and we are all accounted for,” Katie says. “For sure.”