615 Minnesota runners among the Boston Marathon starters

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Among the 36,000 runners massing at the starting line of Monday morning's Boston Marathon are 615 from Minnesota, 212 of whom ran in the race last year, when the event was marred by a bombing.

“The running community will support and will come back bigger and stronger than ever in defiance of what happened and in tribute and support for the victims,” Medina runner Jim Driscoll told the Star Tribune, which interviewed a number of those who are running today.

“I am not scared at all. Not intimidated," Jennifer Flavin, 28, of Minnetonka, told the newspaper.

The Star Tribune on Sunday featured a number of Minnesota's Boston Marathon runners in a huge two-page photo (video from behind-the-scenes of the photo shoot).

There were 418 Minnesota runners who finished the race last year. The total Boston Marathon race field has swelled by 9,000 runners this year.

"I look forward to [finishing the race] – it's kind of a homecoming," Larry Gray, of Roseville, told KARE 11. He was just blocks from the finish line last year when the bombs exploded.

Many runners have said that they were determined to return to the race today, despite vivid images still etched in their minds from last year.

"I saw a man with his pants blown off and soot all over his face and blood," Minnesota runner Lisa Kresky-Griffin told KSTP. "It was like someone took a can of red paint all over the sidewalks."

Jody Zylstra, from Annandale, told WCCO about how last year she was just blocks from finishing the Boston Marathon, her first. But the bombs went off, and she never crossed the finish line. “I’m allowed to go back and I’m not worried,” Zylstra told the station. “God put me there for a reason he’ll put me there on Monday for a reason.”

Security along the 26.2-mile race route was tight. As many as 1 million spectators were expected, twice last year's number. ABC News takes viewers inside the "bunker" security center for the race. An unprecedented 4,000 officers were set to patrol the race, including 500 plainclothes officers.

You can track runners online on the race website and follow live commentary on the race on Twitter.

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