RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- A Richmond woman holding her Boston Marathon medal is wrestling with two vastly different emotions: elation and devastation.
“Boston was my dream,” Nicole Blanton said. “It is a traumatic and tragic time for those involved.”
Blanton was just a few strides from reaching her ultimate goal of finishing the 117th Boston Marathon when the Richmonder found herself in the middle of chaos and carnage along the race route.
“I could see the finish line in the distance,“ Blanton said. “I looked to my left there was a gentleman in a red shirt whose head was gashed open.”
Blanton was caught on camera wearing a lime green top and bright green shorts steps from the finish line. In fact, she was one of the last runners to finish the race before the bombs canceled it.
“People screaming. Smoke. Debris. Sirens everywhere. From my peripheral vision on my left I saw glass breaking in the marathon store. And smoke everywhere around me,” Blanton said.
She was sandwiched between the pair of deadly bombs that she initially thought were smoky explosions from cannon shots celebrating the Massachusetts holiday called Patriot’s Day. She soon realized it was something far more sinister.
“No one around me knew what had happened. I had a sinking feeling in my heart there was more to come," Blanton said. "The first thing on my mind was where is my family. If I had not been on the right side of the road trying to have a strong finish I don’t think I would have been so lucky.”
Blanton counts her blessing she or her parents cheering in the crowd were not hurt.
“It is astounding to me that something so horrific could happen on such a wonderful occasion,” Blanton said.
Whenever she gazes at her marathon medal she’ll undoubtedly think of her personal achievement that day, but her thoughts will quickly turn to the runners and spectators not as lucky.
“The running of the race isn’t what is that is important," she said. "It is what happened to the innocent victims at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
This is not the way Nicole anticipated finishing the Boston Marathon, but she said if she qualifies again she would run the race as fast as she could.