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Canadians In Boston Marathon 2013 Decry 'Attack' (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

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Rob Watson’s first Boston Marathon will be forever etched in his memory, but the elation he felt as the top Canadian racer was soon overcome by frustration and grief at bombings that rocked the finish line of the storied race.

Watson, who finished in 11th place with a time of 2:15, was settling into a celebratory lunch at the nearby Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel when he heard “a really loud explosion.”

“It sounded like a really loud thunderclap, so that’s what I thought it was, but I looked out the window and it’s a calm and clear day,” said the London, Ont., runner, speaking to HuffPost Canada from his hotel about 800 metres from the blast site.

“Twenty seconds later there was another one, so after that happened, you knew it was something significant, but you didn’t know what it was ... when something like that happens, unfortunately you think about 9/11 and stuff.”

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Watson’s thoughts went immediately to his friends and family at the event. Luckily, everyone he knows is accounted for and safe.

“You try and get hold of them as quick as you can and you can’t so it’s scary, you don’t know how to react in a situation like that and there was a lot of upset people, it wasn’t cool.”

“It’s kind of surreal in a terrible, horrible way because you don’t expect it to happen, you’re at the Boston Marathon, it’s a road race, it’s a marathon, marathons are celebrations and they’re festivals and people are here for great reasons, they come from all over the world."

Many Canadian runners caught up in Monday’s mayhem at the Boston Marathon expressed similar feelings of shock and anger at what they believe was an attack on their community at a race that has become one of the biggest events for Canadian running enthusiasts outside of the country.

Two explosions tore across the finish line at around the four-hour mark of the legendary race, sending runners and bystanders fleeing the area covered by debris, blood and plumes of grey smoke. The explosions left at least three dead and dozens injured, with the number of casualties expected to climb.

Marathon runner David Emilio heard the explosions after he had finished his marathon in at time of 3:11, about 45 minutes before the chaos erupted. The 45-year-old marathoner from Toronto -- who was with 20 other runners from the Toronto area -- said he's heard from most of the runners from his group.

"We heard the explosion," he said from his hotel room a block away from the finish line. "For us it was panic for about 10 to 15 minutes while we were waiting to see what happened."

People were in tears, and they knew something terrible had happened.

"It’s just sheer, mixed emotions: Anger that someone is sick enough to do that. Everyone is half sad and half angry."

After the explosions, hundreds of ambulances started to stream into the area. "The electric feeling of Boston just died -- everyone was freaking out and automatically thought that something bad had happened."

The area hotels were locked down and as Emilio looked out of his hotel room, he could see the area beyond the finish -- tables were overturned, garbage bins searched. Small detonations were heard -- Emilio believes police were dealing with knapsacks left behind.

Emilio doesn't know if he'll do another Boston. For now, he says that all big city marathons -- Chicago, New York -- feel a little less safe.

Outside of the United States, Canadians represent the largest contingent of runners from another country: 2,083 registered participants, or 7.7 per cent of the 26,000 field, are Canadians.

Canadian Samantha Sykes said she feels the running community was “attacked.”

The 30-year-old Toronto woman had seen a security presence before and during the race -- mentioning that she took a picture of what looked like a sniper. She said she saw Marines on her way to the Athlete’s Village in Hopkinton, Mass., near the start of the race.

Sykes, speaking to HuffPost from her Beacon Hill hotel, finished her marathon with a time of around 3:30, about 40 to 50 minutes before the explosions. She had filtered into the finish area to grab her gear.

“It feels like a breach to be honest -- as a runner I feel like they attacked my friends,” she said.

Sykes has several Toronto friends running the race from the Running Room and Lululemon clubs. She said she was trying to locate or message them.

Sykes said she’d seen hotels near the finish line in Copley Square blocked off as fears of other devices spread. She's been getting updates by TV at her hotel. At first, she didn’t know about the explosions, until she started seeing all the messages from worried friends.

Michael Doyle, an editor at Canadian Running Magazine, had been watching Canadians cross the finish line about 45 minutes before the bombings. He estimates there were about 1,000 spectators near the line.

“Creepily enough, about 45 minutes before, I was exactly where the explosion apparently went off. It was the media, VIP and friends and family of the elite runners grandstand,” he said from a locked down zone near a medical tent in Copley Park.

“I didn’t hear a huge explosion or anything like that, it wasn’t how you’d expect this scenario to play out like giant black puffs of smoke or anything along those lines.”

Doyle grabbed his camera and managed to convince race volunteers to let him back inside a perimeter that had been set up. That’s when he saw members of the FBI, local police, ATF and military arrive on scene.

“When I was getting closer to the situation, you could see a lot of people on their phones, a lot of people asking if they’d seen their loved one that had just finished the race, trying to figure out where everyone was, people were crying,” he said.

“As you can imagine there was just a general state of shock.”

He heard what he believes was a third explosion. Then the security presence was ramped up in front of the Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel, where many elite runners and race officials were staying.

Speaking with the Huffington Post Canada about an hour and a half after news of the explosions first broke, Doyle noted the crowd was beginning to “thin out.

“The volunteers, some are packing up and leaving, some are kind of just sitting down on park benches and staring off into space. People look pretty glum, pretty upset.”

Laura McLean, another runner from Toronto, was in the medical tent being treated for dehydration when she was pulled out to make room for victims of the explosions.

McLean says she saw people who were "really, really bloody."

The blasts went off about four hours after the race began.

Conservative Member of Parliament Ryan Leef was clear of the four block-long finish area when he heard sirens coming from all directions toward the start line: He didn’t hear any explosion.

“What a terrible thing to have happen to people, in what should have been their greatest of accomplishments,” he said in an email to HuffPost Canada.

“My thoughts are obviously with my fellow runners, organizers, volunteers, spectators and the families of the victims. We'll all remember the 117th running of the Boston Marathon, but now, sadly, for a far different reason than we all wanted at the start line this morning.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper took to Twitter to express his shock at the news, saying his "thoughts are with those who are affected."

The Department of Foreign Affairs has set up an emergency line — 1-800-387-3124 — to offer assistance to Canadians.

With a file from The Canadian Press

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One marathon suspect has been captured, according to an official with knowledge of the investigation.

Another remains on the loose in Watertown after a firefight with police. Authorities have established a 20-block perimeter as they search for him.

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new photo suspect 2

Just hours after the FBI released the first photos of suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, a new photo of Suspect 2 may have emerged.

David Green, 49, of Jacksonville, Fla., had just completed his first Boston Marathon, when he snapped a picture with his iPhone 4S, taken at 2:50, just after the two blasts ripped through the finish line area, killing three people and injuring more than 180 others.

The FBI has not publicly confirmed this photo as Suspect 2, but Green told the Huffington Post that an agent told him, "this is probably the best we have right now."

The man who appears to be Suspect 2 is wearing a white hat with a "3" on the side as seen in the publicly-released photos.

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Minutes before the bombs blew up in Boston, Jeff Bauman looked into the eyes of the man who tried to kill him.

Just before 3 p.m. on April 15, Bauman was waiting among the crowd for his girlfriend to cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon. A man wearing a cap, sunglasses and a black jacket over a hooded sweatshirt looked at Jeff, 27, and dropped a bag at his feet, his brother, Chris Bauman, said in an interview.

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info wars

BOSTON -- Moments after the FBI revealed images of two baseball cap-wearing men wanted for questioning about the Boston bombings, the press conference descended into a sideshow.

A journalist from a far-right wing website called Info Wars shouted out a question accusing the government of carrying out the attack that killed three, and maimed or injured 170 others.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard Deslauriers ignored the allegation of a government conspiracy from reporter Daniel Bidondi, but the Alex Jones protege did not stop hollering.

"The FBI lies," Bidondi said. "We've got the proof," he said accusing the government of a "false flag" attack in which it staged the blasts and made them appear like the work of terrorists.

Bidondi found himself at the center of an media scrum with cameras and microphones pointed at his face after law enforcement officials left the podium in the Sheraton hotel.

Another reporter ridiculed Bidondi from across the room, telling him to shut up and calling him an asshole.

The excitement quickly dissipated as reporters returned to delivering the news about the official images of the suspects.

Bidondi has been a presence at other press conferences this week related to the bombing investigation.

--Michael McLaughlin / HuffPost Crime

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled Bidondi's last name. We regret the error.

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Dr. Ralph Gross, a facial recognition expert at Carnegie Mellon University, said the FBI photos of two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing are likely too grainy to be matched against a driver's license database or Facebook. But he thinks they may be just good enough for someone who knows the individuals to identify them.

"The resolution isn't particularly good. The one that's kind of best is unfortunately a side view -- and in general the face recognition software works best with frontal view," he said.

Research has consistently found, however, that people can spot people they know even in grainy, off-center photographs.

"Humans are actually very good at recognizing people that they are familiar with," Gross said. "Somebody that might know these guys, or might know the way they dress, might certainly be able to recognize them."

The FBI said the men should be considered armed and dangerous, and urged tipsters to call 1-800-CALL-FBI if they believe they have information that could lead to an arrest.

--Matt Sledge

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The New York Daily News reportedly doctored its front page photograph of the Boston bombings (see update below).

WARNING: LINK GOES TO GRAPHIC PHOTO

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suspects

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CNN reports that, because of a flood of traffic, the FBI's site is temporarily down.

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FBI's Richard Richard DesLauriers said the only official photos that should be relied upon in the investigation are the pictures the FBI unveiled.

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Richard DesLauriers "somebody out there knows these individuals". They are considered armed and extremely dangerous.

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The FBI's Richard Richard DesLauriers unveils photos of two suspects.

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The press conference is scheduled for 5 p.m. Watch it here.

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From The Huffington Post's Michael McLaughlin ...

Christine Anastos and her therapy dog Windy comforted runners who dropped in to the Boston Athletic Association's offices today.

Windy, a black labrador who retired from Guiding Eyes for the Blind, was a big hit with the Marathoners.

"I don't think there was a moment when someone wasn't petting her," she said about Windy,who was joined by a Newfoundland and boxer. "All she has to do is be herself. She's so sensitive. She takes in all the emotion."

Anastos makes Windy available through Therapy Dogs International There are more than 100 therapy dogs available within a 20 mile radius of Boston, she said, so people should contact the group if they're interested.

boston dog christine anastos and windy

Christine Anastos and Windy

boston dog windy

WIndy

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The New York Post once again found itself in trouble after it published front-page photos of two men on Thursday who it said were being searched for in connection with the Boston bombings. The problem? They were completely innocent.

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The FBI press conference scheduled for 5 p.m. today is the first public briefing in two days, according to Fox News.

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boston

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 18: Boston Mayor Thomas Menino pauses after speaking at an interfaith prayer service for victims of the Boston Marathon attack titled 'Healing Our City,' at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on April 18, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. Authorities investigating the attack on the Boston Marathon have shifted their focus to locating the person who placed a black bag down and walked away just before the bombs went off. The twin bombings at the 116-year-old Boston race, which occurred near the marathon finish line, resulted in the deaths of three people and more than 170 others injured. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

boston

US President Barack Obama speaks during the 'Healing Our City: An Interfaith Service' dedicated to those who were gravely wounded or killed in the Boston Marathon bombing, at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, Massachusetts, on April 18, 2013. Obama is in Boston to mourn victims of the deadly marathon attacks, as investigators study images of a suspect who may have planted the bombs. No arrests have been made in connection with Monday's twin bombings near the finish line of the race, which sent metal fragments and nails into a crowd of thousands of runners and spectators, killing three people and wounding 180. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad

boston

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 18: Former Massachusetts Governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney attends an interfaith prayer service for victims of the Boston Marathon attack titled 'Healing Our City,' where President Barack Obama spoke at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on April 18, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. Authorities investigating the attack on the Boston Marathon have shifted their focus to locating the person who placed a black bag down and walked away just before the bombs went off. The twin bombings at the 116-year-old Boston race, which occurred near the marathon finish line, resulted in the deaths of three people and more than 170 others injured. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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A local paper in Minnesota ran an unfortunately placed ad for a pressure cooker -- right next to a story about the Boston Marathon bombing, which was likely carried out using pressure cookers packed with shrapnel and explosives.

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From the AP:

BOSTON -- Kenneth Feinberg, an attorney who managed the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, will design and administrator of a new fund to help people affected by the Boston Marathon bombing.

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Boston Marathon Fund raises more than million in 24 hours.

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From The Huffington Post's Michael McLaughlin ...

BOSTON -- The sight of bright blue and yellow windbreakers and t-shirts have become an instant symbol of Boston's healing and unity since Monday's double bombing.

The flashy colors are worn mainly as the official gear of the marathon. Blue is for the 23,000 runners and yellow is for the thousands of volunteers. Adidas also produces versions of the merchandise that's available to the paying public.

"This is my sport. This is my city," said Kim Stemple, a race volunteer wearing a lemon yellow jacket available on Thursday

"We know each other. We're each other's best therapy," she said about other volunteers.

Griffin Schroeder donned the blue runners' jacket as he stood near a memorial on Boylston Street before heading back to Wisconsin.

"It's out of respect," the 27-year-old said, adding that it's a symbol of completely the grueling event. "It's a very important accomplishment."

The windbreaker is an open invitation to talk with other marathoners. "I might ask someone if they finished the race. Or if I see someone we give a nod to each other."

Volunteer Susan Furgal of Brockton, Mass wept Thursday as she wore hers near the bomb site.

"I had to make myself come back," she told HuffPost.

Others find simple comfort in displaying that they were a part of the marathon.

"I just feel good wearing it," said Lene Henricksen, 51, from Denmark who was interrupted by the attack before finishing the 26.2 mile course. "This should never happen again. The marathon should go on."

boston marathon

Griffin Schoder wears the blue runner's jacket "out of respect" for the attack, but also because he's proud to have completed the testing race.

boston marathon runners pat cohen and kim stemple

Race volunteers Pat Cohen and Kim Semple embrace near the makeshift memorial of flowers and candles on Boylston Street

boston marathon runners lene henricksen

The race was called off before Henricksen, of Denmark, got to the finish line. She had the misfortune of traveling to New York for last fall's marathon that was canceled due to Hurricane Sandy.

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From The Huffington Post's Christina Wilkie: Relatives of bomb victims who remained in the Intensive Care Unit of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston on Thursday were unable to watch President Obama's tribute to those killed and injured in the blast, but they were nonetheless very keen to know what the president said. One family member of a renect amputee sent a text to HuffPost during the speech that said, "ICU has no TV's! How is it?" By all accounts, it was a very good speech.

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"This time next year on the third Monday in April the world will return to this city to run even harder."

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