Minnesotans make emotional return to Boston to cross marathon finish line


More than 600 runners from Minnesota have been training for months in preparation for next week's 118th Boston Marathon, some of whom were unable to finish the race last year because two pressure-cooker bombs detonated near the finish line.

Tuesday marks the one-year anniversary of the bombings, which killed three people and injured more than 260 others.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, are accused of setting off the bombs on April 15, 2013, and are also accused of killing a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer during a shootout days after the bombings. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in the shootout. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to the charges. He is in federal prison awaiting trial, he could face the death penalty.

With new rules, scores more police officers and heavy hearts, this year's marathon is expected to be an emotional part of the healing process for many runners intent on crossing the finish line.

Of the 418 Minnesota runners at last year's race, 32 weren't able to finish. This year, 615 runners from Minnesota are expected to be among the masses at the starting line.

"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 when the bombs exploded.

Bree Williamson was just past the finish line when she heard the bombs explode. She told KSTP that, “This year is really about reclaiming hope for me and choosing to not live by fear."

Many runners don't want last year to be their lasting memory of the Boston Marathon. Race officials opened up 9,000 more spots for runners this year and double the amount of spectators are expected to line the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston.

"Right after the bombings I committed to running again, saying this is not going to slow me down,” Steve Aggregaard, Boston Marathon runner, told KSTP. He was among the runners who have been training together for the race in Minnesota. "We need to go out and really celebrate running as a great lifetime sport. That's why I’m going back.”

“After everything that happened, I thought of course I have to try again, it can't be the end,” runner Lydia Greis told KSTP.

Other media outlets told stories of local runners and their plans for this year. The Duluth News Tribune highlighted the experience of several North Shore-area runners as they looked back a year after the bombings.

Sarah Herschberger, a Blaine graduate, was stopped just over a mile short of the finish line. She said in a column published by ABC Newspapers that she has been "preparing to return to the starting line on April 21 and finish the journey I began."

Two women who are battling cancer and were unable to finish the race last year, got special permission to walk or run the final blocks of the marathon this year.

KARE 11 has video interviews with eight runners who plan to run this year's race – a few of whom will be crossing the finish line in Boston for the first time.

For more on other survivors and first responders, as well as Tuesday's remembrance ceremony, click here. The Associated Press has published a timeline of events that led up to the bombings.

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