Melissa Southwell couldn't walk down Boylston Street, where she works, for about two weeks in April.
Southwell was close to the finish line, watching the Boston Marathon, on April 15. She was near Marathon Sports but moved because there were too many people in the area.
Then she saw one bomb explode to her left. She knew exactly what it was. A mother with three children in front of her told her kids to run and Southwell picked up one child and helped her.
Then the other bomb went off, in the direction they were running.
They stopped. Southwell remembered thinking, 'Oh my God, what do we do?' "You just didn't know what else was going to happen," she said.
Southwell and the family managed to find shelter in a basement of a nearby store until they were able to leave. They were all fine physically but Southwell couldn't walk near that part of the street, even after it was opened.
She may not have been able to walk, but she found she could run. So finally she did. And she made it.
One of many people affected by the Boston Marathon bombing, Southwell, of Maynard, Mass., ran in Connecticut Saturday as part of the One Run for Boston coast-to-coast relay, which started in Venice Beach, Calif. on June 7 and will finish up 3,000 miles later, at the Boston Marathon finish line.
Southwell ran Leg No. 298, an 8-mile stretch from the Darien to Westport, with three others.
"It was great," Southwell said after she finished. "It was harder than I thought. It was humid and I did an interview before I ran so I was kind of emotional. The group gave me so much strength. When I was really struggling, wanting to walk, I kept thinking of people who were injured and can't run. It made me dig deeper. I ran for myself and I ran for them. I'm so glad I did it."
The idea for the relay was conceived in England by running friends Kate Treleaven, Danny Bent and James Hay, who watched the marathon bombing coverage with horror and a determination to help the people affected.
"We saw it happen and it made quite an impression on us," Treleaven said.
So they built a website and started a Facebook page. Runners could pay $50 to run a leg, with the proceeds going to the One Fund to benefit the Boston Marathon victims. So far, over 1,500 runners have participated in the relay and raised over $70,000.
The support has been overwhelming. People have spotted the relay's pace car and have offered to fill the gas tank. They have given donations on the spot as the relay went by.
"It seems like the whole country is behind us," Treleaven said.
The relay came through Connecticut Saturday afternoon, with Michael Grant of Norwalk handing off the baton (nicknamed "Miles") to Molly Barrett in front of the Greenwich Running Company store in downtown Greenwich. Barrett, of Larchmont, N.Y., had tutus for her runners, including Christina Curinga of Patterson, N.Y., who had signed up Thursday on a whim.
Bent, one of the organizers, came to run and was promptly handed a red tutu. He good-naturedly put it on and was ready to go.
"My mom would have loved this," said Barrett, who has run 14 marathons and wants to qualify for Boston. "She passed away two days before Boston. She loved when I did relays. She would have thought it was cool, people working together for one cause."
Bent had run about 75 miles of the relay at various points but he appeared fresh Saturday.
"This is going to be one of those moments that you think about when you get home and you say, 'Life doesn't get any better than this,'" he said.
People drove by on Route 1, some honking their horns in support. An ambulance driver spotted them and pulled over to cheer them on. "Only two states to go," he said.
Later, the relay went through New Haven, up through Portland, Hebron and Willimantic and exited the state via Thompson.
Surprisingly, after thousands of runners had run through all kinds of weather and conditions, including violent thunderstorms and torrid heat, the relay was only three hours behind schedule on Saturday afternoon.
John Mullaney of Hebron had finished the Boston Marathon a little over an hour before the bombs went off. He was with a group from the Hartford Track Club.
"We heard some people saying something happened at the finish line," he said Thursday. "It was a strange day. It was such a nice day before that. It's still a hard thing to believe."
So when Mullaney, who will turn 49 Sunday, heard that the relay was going to pass within 2 miles of his house, he figured he should join. It didn't bother him that his leg would begin at 3 a.m. Sunday.
"I've done overnight relays where you stay up all night," he said. "But two hours later wouldn't be bad for me."
They were planning on running part of their segment on the Airline Trail to avoid traffic in the middle of the night.
Janine Lind of Bridgeport said Saturday afternoon that one person, Eric Godbout, was coming from Quebec to join her 9.5-mile leg from Westport to Bridgeport. She was also joined by a woman who didn't finish the marathon — she was 2/10 of a mile away from the finish line when the bombs exploded — and came to run the leg.
The relay is scheduled to finish in Boston on Sunday, with 600 people expected to run the final leg to the marathon finish line. Some are flying in to do it.
"I thought it was amazing how all the people came together," Barrett said. "I'm so happy I was part of it."