A Fort Dodge woman completed the Boston Marathon about 20 minutes before two bomb blasts ripped through the area near the finish line.
Patty Croonquist said Monday evening that she was a couple of blocks way from the explosions.
''It was just terrible,'' she said during a phone interview just before she boarded a flight at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport in Michigan.
Croonquist said that police officers immediately started moving people out of the area near the finish line after the explosions. She was then caught up in a mob of people.
''It was just so crowded,'' she said.
She recalled seeing people crying.
''Some kids were so emotional,'' she said.
Croonquist said she wanted to take the subway to get out of the area. However, the nearest subway line was shut down.
Croonquist, who is a language arts instructor and coordinator of modern languages at Iowa Central Community College, borrowed a phone to call one of her former students who lives in Boston. After that conversation, she began walking toward South Station, a commuter railroad hub in Boston. From there, she was able to get back to her hotel and subsequently, the airport.
She said ''tons and tons'' of people were still running the marathon when the explosions ended it. She estimated that at least half the runners had yet to finish.
''They stopped the race,'' she said.
Croonquist said she finished the marathon in three hours, 46 minutes. She added that if she had been slower she might have been close to the bombs when they exploded.