One by one, they came. The runner from Rome. The woman from Gloucester. The 71-year-old from California.
Dazed, angry, and confused from Monday’s twin explosions, the runners had come to collect belongings they left at the Marathon starting line, and to retrieve a yellow and blue medal for participating in the race.
“I’m still kind of shell-shocked,” said Arthur Webb, of Santa Rosa, Calif..
A runner with 100 marathons under his belt, Webb and scores of other racers gathered at the corner of Berkeley Street and St. James Avenue, a few blocks from the finish line. Some runners had left extra pairs of sneakers, warm-ups, towels. Others left behind keys, wallets, and cellphones.
A portion of Berkeley Street was blocked off, as thousands of yellow bags with runners’ numbers affixed to them were stacked like sandbags.
As a Marathon official handed Dana Krashin her bag and placed a medal around her neck, the 35-year-old Framingham native folded over in tears. She and her family have been coming to the Marathon for years, lining up along the route and cheering on participants. But this year, she ran.
“To think that so many Marathon spectators were hurt makes me really sad,’’ Krashin said, weeping. “It sounds silly, but I’m a Marathon spectator. That was my favorite part of the race. The Boston Marathon has been the best spectator sport ever.”
By late afternoon, runners were filing into Park Plaza Castle, the historic Back Bay armory on Arlington Street, where they were given meals and offered counseling.
Most of the runners interviewed Tuesday were on the route and close to finishing when they heard about the explosions. Just as they prepared to launch into the final stretch, the race was abruptly halted, sending runners and spectators into chaos.
“I feel very, very sad, but also incredibly impressed by the kindness of all the people,’’ said Teresa Bolick, 60, of Westford, who ran the race with her sister Jan Bolick of North Carolina.
What followed was a frantic search for families, phone calls that went unanswered, and finally, happy reunions. Three people lost their lives and more than 170 were wounded.
Francesco Iacovelli, 45, of Rome, had finished the race in just over three hours and was getting medical help for severe cramping when he heard the explosions, which he thought sounded like a thunderstorm.
His wife, Rita, was with their 12-year-old son, Jose, and learned of the blast while on the Green Line. They rushed to reach him, but got caught up in the crush of the crowds.
“I thought he was dead,” said Rita, who eventually reunited with her husband in their hotel.
Along the route, there were random acts of kindness by strangers who opened their homes and offered food and water. One man took off his jacket and gave it to a shivering marathoner.
But throughout Tuesday, it was clear that Marathon participants were still cloaked in shock and bewilderment. “I’m feeling a little stressed out and a little disappointed in humanity,’’ said Larry Wasserman, a 38-year-old New Yorker. “This was supposed to be a good day, and someone had to make it into a horrific event.”
Kristy Bennett, 33, from Nashua, wore her medal as she left the Park Plaza Castle, but tears filled her eyes.
The explosions took lives and maimed spectators. But they also destroyed the dreams of so many like Bennett, who had braved Heartbreak Hill and was making it to the finish line.
“I feel robbed,’’ Bennett said. “It’s my first marathon. I’ve been training for so long. . . . It was my dream to cross the finishing line. I’m still trying to wrap my head around all of this.”Meghan Irons can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @MeghanIrons.