About 100 students gathered on the University of Portland campus Monday night for a candlelight prayer vigil to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon tragedy.
The vigil was organized entirely by socially media, organizers said.
Students held candles under the university's clock tower, prayed and sang songs.
The organizer told FOX 12 that he was rendered speechless and his heart was heavy after hearing about what happened near the finish line at the Boston Marathon.
The vigil took place on what has been a difficult day for local runners who traveled to Boston to participate in the marathon.
About an hour after local marathon runner Dave Harkin crossed the finish line, he and his wife were on the sixth floor of the Lennox Hotel, he said. The hotel is about a block-and-a-half away from the end of the marathon, he added.
"We heard basically an earth-shattering explosion," Harkin told FOX 12 by phone. "The whole building shook. And kind of a combination of an earthquake to, you know, getting close to a subway tunnel. It just felt like that. It immediately felt like something. Like a bomb. It didn't seem to be like anything else. And then within about 15 seconds, the other blast detonated. And that was right below our hotel window."
After Harkin and his wife heard the second explosion, they tried to leave but were told to go back into their rooms, he said.
Harkin looked out his hotel window and saw hundreds of people fleeing, ambulances lined up on the street, and medics rushing to help those who were injured, he said.
Eventually, Harkin and his wife were able to get out.
Someone who lives in the Boston area stopped them on the street to see if they were OK, then offered to let them stay in their apartment, Harkin said. The couple took that person up on their offer.
Harkin, who has participated in the Boston Marathon four times, is the co-owner of the Portland Running Company.
The manager of the company's store in Beaverton store told FOX 12 that she was very worried about Harkin and his wife, several fellow employees and a large number of customers who participated in the marathon. All appear to be OK, she said.
"I can picture when I ran my first marathon," said Sarah Price, Portland Running Company. "You're just getting close to the finish line and how exciting it was. And how upsetting it would be to have that cut short. But also to think about my friends that were out there. And to think that if the timing had been off for them, and if they had been close to the finish line. ... What would have happened? It's scary to think about."
About 30 other runners gathered at the store in Beaverton Monday evening for a weekly group run. All of them were aware of what happened thousands of miles away in Boston.
"I could have been there. And it's insane that all of these innocent people are hurt, even a little boy," runner Subba Somanchi said.
Harkin said there's now a sense of unrest in Boston after the terror that unfolded on Monday.
He feels lucky knowing everyone he knows has been accounted for.
"Quite fortune that we weren't in the direct route of either of the blasts," Harkin said. "Because we could have been. With any other decision we would have made would have put us down closer to the finish line."
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