One block away from Boston Marathon blasts, Enumclaw runner Lori Stafford recalls the panic | Photos

Lori Stafford at the finish line of the Boston Marathon April 15.

Aaron Stafford will  be throwing a very special 30th birthday party for his wife Lori Stafford on Sunday when she returns to Enumclaw from Boston.

Lori Stafford ran in the Boston Marathon Monday, April 15, finishing 45 minutes before the two bombs exploded. Lori Stafford said she was one block away when the bombs exploded.

“I was going to meet my family,” Lori Stafford said. “When it went off there was a very loud boom. I looked up, but I couldn’t see anything at first, but we knew something serious was going on.”

Very quickly she said the area was flooded with ambulances, police and the air filled with sirens.

“I could see the panic in people’s eyes,” she said. “We were separated from our families. We were trying to make calls out but the cell phones were all down.”

Back home Aaron Stafford said he was working on a machine in Auburn with his excavating company. Lori Stafford’s mother and sister were in Boston with her.

“I got a text from her sister that said she was ‘alive and well,'” Aaron Stafford said. “I didn’t understand because I knew she finished (the race) earlier. Then in a few minutes my phone started going crazy.”

He tried to text his wife and family members, but could not reach anyone. Her mother, Sheryl Vilt, and sisters Rebekah Schneider and Rachel Powell, had traveled to Boston to watch her run the marathon.

“I was just about ripped in half,” Aaron Stafford said. “All the phones died. My mind led to one place and it was not very bright.”

He said he decided to picked up his children, go home and pray.

After a very long 90 minutes that Aaron Stafford described as “complete horror,” Lori Stafford’s brother, Zack Bomsta, who was in Utah, called to report everyone was safe and uninjured. He was finally able to get through to the family members in Boston.

“She (Lori) is a wonderful person,” Aaron Stafford said. “We were terrified. It was nearly two hours of panic. So many around here know how special she is. Everyone was concerned.”

Lori Stafford said it has been her goal since sixth grade to run in the Boston Marathon.

“The first time I heard about it I wanted to run in the Boston Marathon,” she said. “I have been running since I was a kid.”

She has been seriously running marathons for the past 10 years. After a decade of training she cut an hour off her time in order to qualify for the Boston Marathon. She had to make 3 hours, 35 minutes to make the cut. In September 2012 at the Utah marathon she ran 3:29 qualifying for the Boston Marathon.

“I qualified (for the Boston Marathon) in 2009 but I didn’t register in time,” she said. “I was crying because I thought I had missed my chance.”

Over the past decade Lori Stafford said she trained between having three children.

“I would have a kid, then run another marathon, then have a kid,” she said

Finally this year she was able to realize her dream.

“It was as cool as I thought it would be,” she said. “People lined the course for 26 miles. It is like the whole town shuts down for it. It is so upsetting someone would do something so awful and evil at a time there is so much support for everyone….  It is heartbreaking to think about the runners and spectators.”

Lori Stafford said this year’s Boston Marathon was her, “last hurrah. I may plan some half marathons, but Boston was my last.”

Late Friday Aaron Stafford will meet his wife at the airport after she has accomplished her dream to run, and survive the Boston Marathon.

Editor’s note: The most recent information is three have died and 174 were injured from the two explosions near the finish line of the marathon.

Another former Enumclaw resident, Jeremy Koontz, was at the finish line with his family to meet Lori Stafford. Koontz and his family were not injured. She and her family stayed at his residence for several hours following the blast when city officials advised everyone to stay away from public transportation.

Lori Stafford said by phone Tuesday she was able to tour the city and most establishments were open, although some were closed. She said people were out and moving around the city.