Scott Yakubek of Salem was beaming about his best time ever at the Boston Marathon. Brian Wilson of Columbiana was thrilled about running for the first time there.
Both local runners had completed the most famous race in the world on Monday afternoon before two bombs exploded near the finish line, killing at least three people and injuring more than 100.
"I ran my best time," Yakubek said. "It was a pretty good day until that happened. It's pretty awful."
"Today was not what we expected," Wilson said. "It was my first time in the Boston Marathon and my first time in Boston.
"The spectators are amazing. It was a great day until the bad news."
Both were heading back to their hotels when the explosions occurred.
"I was two miles away when we got the news," Yakubek said. "I got the whole family together and got out of town."
He knew traffic in downtown Boston would come to a standstill after the bombings. His group, which totals eight family members, got safely to their hotel about 17 miles out of town.
Wilson along with his wife, Amber, and 9-week-old son, Liam, were taking a cab to their hotel about a mile from the finish.
"We didn't hear the explosions," he said. "I couldn't walk anymore, so we caught a cab the last half mile. My wife thought she heard a siren. My dad called me and we just walked into the hotel. He asked if we were all right. We didn't know anything about it."
Wilson watched emergency vehicles drive by his hotel window.
"There were a bunch of sirens," he said. "There was a lot of traffic because they shut the train station down.
"I got a little worried because they said at other hotels, they detonated a couple of others. Luckily we're a good mile away."
Monday started out like any other Boston Marathon day with 23,336 runners ready for the challenge.
"It's awesome," said Yakubek, a 1997 graduate of Salem High School. "It's the biggest thing for runners around the world. People work very hard to get there. Only about 10 percent of the marathon runners get to go there."
He covered the challenging 26.2-mile course in 2 hours, 54 minutes - his best in three Boston races, attributing it to better training this time around.
Then Yakubek got something to eat, picked up his bag and had a massage before picking up his family at a nearby restaurant.
"I had crossed the finish line about two hours before (the explosions)," Yakubek said.
Wilson had been waiting for this day after running a qualifying time at the Erie (Pa.) Marathon in September.
"The beginning of the day was beautiful," Wilson said. "I left the hotel at 5:30 (in the morning) and caught the bus to the race. We knew all week the weather would be beautiful."
A 2000 graduate of Columbiana High School, Wilson was wearing his Clipper jersey for the race. His time of 3 hours, 25 minutes was about 25 minutes off his goal.
"The experience was awesome," Wilson said. "I didn't run what I expected. I was kind of glad. If I would have run faster, I would have been happy and we would have stayed around longer.
"I was really sore afterwards, so we went back to the hotel."
The runners watched updates of the situation on television Monday night and will head back home today.
"The thing is, any time I'm in a big crowd, I think about it," Yakubek said. "I thought about it at the starting line. With so many people, there's a lot of ways in and out of that place."
Yakubek said he may not run again at Boston because of Monday's events.
"This is my favorite race because it is so significant," he said. "It's a tough question."