( April 18, 2014 )
They are mad. Defiant. Hopeful. Healing.
They are the runners of the Boston Marathon, 36,000 Boston Strong. They are the volunteers. The spectators. The first responders and medical people. The photographers, the race officials and timers.
They are returning to the Boston Marathon, a year after two bombs went off near the finish line, killing three, wounding 260 and scarring countless others.
Thom Abrams, who lives in Newtown and ran for the Newtown Strong team, saw the good last year when he was stranded at a church near Boston College and people brought the runners food and comfort.
A stranger helped a worried and despairing Quinnipiac professor, Jeff Martin, find his pregnant wife after the race.
At the time, Martin and his family lived in Newton, Mass., and had to endure the aftermath of the bombings -- the lockdown of the nearby cities and the manhunt for the suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, bringing on more stress.
"I have a hard time watching the coverage," Martin said. "I still struggle. I was in a dark place after the race."
Timer Charlie Olbrias of Willimantic, at the 30K mark, drove stranded runners to a nearby train station and helped comfort runners who were in shock.
Photographer Steve McLaughlin of Torrington gave his fleece jacket to a runner who was cold.
Dean Festa of Montville, who goes every year to watch the race, said one of his friends gave a runner his shirt.
So out of the bad, there was good. And that's what draws people back. The five people here will be returning to Boston Monday, to confront their demons, to take back the race, and to claim all that is good, for them, about the Boston Marathon.
"Boston, it was a necessity to go back," Festa said. "You're not going to be intimidated out of it. It's just that now you look at a backpack and think of something that can harm you. It's crazy. All those symbolic things that had to do with the tragedy. They set you off."