Sevier County couple had just left Boston Marathon finish line

Apr. 16, 2013 @ 06:13 PM

Mark and Amy Ross were at the Boston Marathon to see a friend run her first — and last— one. Five minutes after the friend crossed the finish line, the first bomb went off.

"If we had hung around to talk or get a drink, we might have been right there," said Ross, chief professional officer of the Boys & Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains.

The Rosses were attending their first marathon to see Holly Sayne of Seymour run. She and Amy Ross are friends and colleagues at Walters State Community College in Morristown.

The Rosses and Sayne were a good four blocks away from where the bombs went off. Sayne had finished the race and gathered up her bag of personal items left on the bus on which she rode to the race, and the three were on their way to the subway station to ride back to their hotel some three miles away.

"My wife heard it first," Ross said. "She heard a muffled sound, like when you attend a football game and somebody scores a touchdown and they shoot off a cannon. We had no idea what it was. We thought since it was Patriots Day it might be celebratory noise."

As chaos ensued and the thousands of people in the street and on the sidewalks began to seek cover and information, the Rosses faced a dilemma: getting back to their hotel more than three miles away. The subway was shut down. So, after running 26.2 miles, Sayne joined the Rosses in walking three and half miles to their hotel.

"It was a surreal scene," Ross said. "People were running on all directions."

Until the terrorist bombing Ross said it had been a great day. People were friendly, the crowds were manageable and there were people from many foreign countries.

"Everybody was happy and cheering on the runners," he said. "It's a tragedy to see it end like that."

Ross said Sayne entered the marathon with the intent of it being her first and last one.

The Rosses caught a flight early Tuesday morning and made it back to their Sevier County home around 4 p.m.