When local runner Jim Reagan qualified for the Boston Marathon following his Disney Marathon finish score in January 2012, he was thrilled as this was his first time to qualify.
"It was a big deal as it is not that easy to qualify for Boston," he said.
Reagan began training with long runs around Sandestin and up and down any hills he could find to get ready for the hills of Boston. His excitement and anticipation spilled over to the rest of his family. His oldest daughter, who lives in Texas, made plans to meet him in Boston and be waiting for him at the finish line to celebrate.
Unfortunately, though, Reagan's intense training for the event caused bruising on his bones six weeks ago, and his doctor ordered him to cease running for six weeks.
He was forced to drop out of the race. But if it had not been for those bruised bones, Reagan and his daughter would have been at the Boston Marathon on Monday.
"It's terrible," said Reagan, whose first thought was shock that someone would do this; then he thought about his daughter, who would have been standing somewhere near the bomb site when it went off.
"That was a very scary thought," he said. "But I don't think I will allow what happened on Monday to keep me from entering marathons. I don't think you should let things like that scare you or the terrorists win. And I don't think it will change Boston; they will probably just up security like the airports have done. The Boston Marathon will continue."
Reagan is a retired resident of Miramar Beach who served in the U.S. Air Force and as a pilot for Pan Am.
Two other local runners agree with Reagan's sentiments.
Santa Rosa Beach runner Lorre James has participated in many races though the years, including one in New Orleans, that draws between16,000 and 23,000 people.
"I always feel safe and people walk around with bags and backpacks all over the place with many holding dry clothes for the runners," she said. "The running world is a very trusting, 'we-are-all-in-this-together' family. Such a shame, all of this. I don't think it was pointed at runners as maybe just the mass event on such a big day in one of America's most high profile cities."
Seagrove resident Jeff Ellis has competed in the MDI Maine Marathon a handful of times, but has never run in the Boston event. He said running is "what makes me know I'm alive and enjoying living."
"After competing in over probably 250 athletic events since my teens — including over 25 marathons and six full Ironmans throughout the U.S. and Europe — not many things can intimidate me now," he said.
For Ellis, it's all a matter of perspective.
"I have open water swam in the Gulf of Mexico off Walton County almost daily when the weather is warm, since the mid 1980s. Everybody asks me about sharks and the possibility of getting attacked. Walking across CR-30A, in reality, any time of the year, is so much more dangerous," said Ellis.