Monday was supposed to be an exciting day for Carson City’s George Ruiz.
“I got up early to watch the marathon on television,” he said. “I even wore my Boston jacket today because if there’s ever a day to wear it, it’s on Patriots’ Day.”
Then he sent a good-luck message to friends Brett and Kari Long, also of Carson City, who ran in the Boston Marathon on Monday. He completed in the same race in 2002.
His anticipation turned to horror as he learned a pair of explosions near the finish line left at least two dead and more than 100 injured.
“I was terrified for them,” Ruiz said. “I’ve since heard that they’re OK, but I feel horrible for everyone.”
While the nation watches footage and sees photographs of the blasts, Ruiz can see the area along Boylston Street clearly in his mind’s eye.
“I know exactly the spot where it happened,” said Ruiz, race director of the Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Runs. “I’ve been in the running store it was in front of. The crowds there are 12 to 15 deep. It’s just packed with people. I can’t even imagine the carnage.”
Michelle Avitia, a running coach with Kaia F.I.T. in Carson City, also was troubled by the news.
“It’s disgusting,” she said. “I’ve been feeling so sad about it all day.”
Avitia said she trained for about two years to meet strict the times necessary to qualify for the run.
“For me, it was a life dream,” she said. “It will never be the same. The Boston Marathon as it is now will never be the same.”
She ran the race in 2011 along with friend Nicole Newby, who owns Sierra Race and Running.
“It’s terrible,” Newby said. “I don’t have words to put my feelings into perspective.”
After his race in 2002, Ruiz joined thousands of runners at a street party with a live band. He said that as he walked back to his hotel that night, he remembers Boston residents, who had the day off in celebration of Patriots’ Day, yelling congratulations to him as he passed.
“It’s a fantastic day in any amateur athlete’s life,” he said. “It’s the best day.”
Officials urged Boston residents to stay in their homes Monday and visitors to return to their hotels.
“You want to have a good time. You want to celebrate,” Ruiz said. “I’m sure there was none of that going on this year.”
Newby said she had planned to run a marathon in December, hoping to qualify to run next year’s Boston Marathon.
“I spent some time today debating whether I’d go back. It’s just so horrible,” she said. “But I’ve decided that I would. It’s so much bigger than today’s events.”