By Nathan Baker
Four minutes longer could have meant disaster for Sheri Nemeth.
The Elizabethton resident crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon with a time of 3 hours, 58 minutes, moments before two bombs exploded in the crowd, killing at least three spectators and wounding more than 170.
“I wasn’t feeling very good in the morning, and at about mile 23, I thought about slowing down and taking it easy going in,” she said Tuesday from her sister’s home in Charlotte, N.C. “But then I told myself that I really wanted to finish in under four hours, so I picked up the pace.
“I’m glad I did.”
Nemeth finished the 26.2-mile marathon at 2:39 p.m. and met up with her sister, who had been watching the race from the roadside.
As the two walked away, the bombs — placed in pressure cookers and hidden in black duffel bags among the cheering crowd — exploded, sending lethal shards of metal in all directions.
“We heard a big boom, looked back and saw a huge billow of smoke,” she said. “We thought maybe the stands had collapsed, but then the second one went off.”
After a brief, stunned silence, Nemeth said police and security officers began running toward the explosion sites and dozens of ambulances screamed past.
To get to their downtown hotel, the sisters walked through packed crowds of chaos.
“There were people everywhere saying there were bombs, but nobody knew the casualties,” she recalled. “One man was asking everyone to give blood, saying there were tremendous injuries. It was crazy.”