MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – For dozens of Middle Georgians, the explosions at the Boston Marathon hit close to home. At least 8 people from Macon and Warner Robins qualified to compete at this year's race.
Grace Tinkey was a mile away when the first explosion went off. Now one day after the frightening finale at the finish line, the 17-year-old is back in Macon. She returned to class at First Presbyterian Day School on Tuesday but admits it was a day clouded with memories of chaos.
"There was a lot smoke everywhere," Tinkey said, "people were really upset and people were calling our phones.
But the phone usage was spotty. It took hours to get in touch with her family. When she arrived at the airport Tuesday morning, they embraced for the first time in days.
"I actually couldn't call my mom or dad, which was actually really scary, because I really wanted to tell them we were okay," she said.
The high school senior traveled to Boston to cheer on fellow runner Marcus Parker. Parker, Tinkey and several others were greeted Tuesday afternoon by the Macon Tracks Running Club Together the group prayed, before lacing up their running shoes and finishing a victory lap around the track.
"Runners are survivors," Parker said, "this is what we do best."
While rejoicing over a safe return, it's hard to forget the scene back in Boston and the many stories of survival.
"We went outside about 30 minutes later and there were literally hundreds of emergency vehicles," Parker said, "they were shutting down the city and it looked like a war zone."
But Parker won't let the terror keep him off the track. He plans to compete in Boston again next year. He hopes to start training soon.