Tens of thousands of runners are set to run the 26.2-mile race that has since become a symbol of strength and survival for the country. On Monday, Boston Marathon bombing survivors will run and finish the race that forever changed their lives. The two-year anniversary of the attack that left three people dead and 264 others injured marks a major milestone for many who will complete the race for the very first time.
The race comes during a brief break in the bombing trial that saw Dzhokhar Tsarnaev convicted guilty of all 30 counts, which included terrorism and murder charges. The 21-year-old's sentencing trial will begin Tuesday, and jurors will determine whether he receives the death penalty or life in prison without parole. The 12 jurors and six alternatives from the bombing trial will not attend the race, according to Reuters, since U.S. District Judge George O'Toole instructed them to avoid it.
For the 119th Boston Marathon, there are a number of heightened security measures. Officials are instructing spectators to leave their large bags and coolers at home since they'll be subject to search. Drones are also banned from the course. But right now, all attention is on the Boston Marathon and the people who will cross the finish line.
Rebekah Gregory, who testified at Tsarnaev's trial, completed last year's 1K tribute run while someone helped push her in a wheelchair. But 2015 will be different. One of 16 victims to lose a limb, Gregory plans to use her new prosthetic left leg to cross the finish line on her own. On her Facebook page, she talked about returning to the "pavement where I thought for sure I would die."
This time I won't be laying on the ground in pieces, or having to be assisted because I can't do things on my own.
This time...the only thing hitting the ground will be my running shoe, as I show myself and the rest of the world that I am back, stronger than ever....and there is NO stopping me now.
Twenty-five members of 415 Strong, a support group made up of bombing survivors, are also running the race Monday. 415 Strong, which is named after the month and day of the attack, has helped a number of spectators who stood at the fateful finish line in 2013 heal, according to Time magazine. Together, they trained physically and mentally to prepare for the grueling race.
Sabrina Dello Russo, a 39-year-old real estate project manager who suffered a shrapnel injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, told Time she normally doesn't like to run, but the group's encouragement prepared her for the race.
We were strangers, but we all went through the same thing.
Mike and Beth Bourgault were among the hundreds standing near the finish line when the two pressure-cooker bombs went off. Mike suffered partial hearing loss while Beth successfully completed multiple surgeries to avoid amputating her left leg. They avoided last year's race, but this time, they're ready to restart their tradition of watching runners race to the end.
And one of those runners will have a familiar face. Their daughter AmyBeth will run the race for the first time in their honor. She told The Huffington Post:
It was a wakeup call about how precious life is, and how quickly it can be taken away from you. It's changed my relationship with my parents. We're a lot closer now than we ever have been and talk almost every day.