New York runners taking on the 26.2-mile challenge in today's Boston Marathon are determined to help Beantown deliver a message of hope and resolve. For them, especially the ones who couldn't cross the finish line last year, this race is a testament to determination.
"The feelings and emotions I had last year, being so close to finishing what would have been my first marathon, it makes me angry and more motivated to run this year," said Renee Pompei-Reynolds, 35, an Upper West Side orthodontist who was a half-mile from the finish line when the bombs exploded last year.
New York runners said they feel a strong connection with marathoners from Boston and wanted to be there, side by side.
Two homemade bombs, allegedly detonated by Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, killed three people and injured 264 people about four hours after the race began.
Boston has taken great steps to make sure this year's marathon goes safely and smoothly, and the New York Road Runners, the organizers of the New York City Marathon, will be on hand with 30 volunteers to help. In addition to the volunteers, many NYRR members will be running, including president and CEO Mary Wittenberg.
Wittenberg said Boston's running community supported the Big Apple following 9/11 and in last fall's New York City Marathon -- the first after the postponed marathon of 2012 -- so it was natural for the city to reciprocate that generosity.
"What Boston did for us last year . . . proved to the world that the spirit of these events carry on," she said.
The Road Runners are also raising money for the charities that help those injured during the attacks. The group has collected more than $150,000 so far.
Shelby Harris, of Westchester, ran last year's Boston Marathon but didn't finish because of the bombings. She vividly recalls the panic and fear that she felt along with her fellow runners and bystanders when the blasts went off. But at the same time, she is proud of how quickly they came together to help each other out.
"I couldn't get to the finish line to get my clothes or water, so I was in 50-degree weather shivering," she recalled. "People were giving me clothes and water and let me use their phones to contact my husband."
Aside from thanking Boston for its generosity, Harris wanted to overcome her own fears by running again this year, she said.
"There will be fears, but what will take over is the camaraderie and spirit. It is an amazing race and spirit. I think it will be even greater this year," she said.
Pompei-Reynolds said her Boston experience made her driven to run more marathons.
She completed her first marathon in New York last fall, and even a leg fracture couldn't stop her from returning to Beantown.
"My doctor recommended that I don't run, but there is no way I'm not going to run," she said.
Pompei-Reynolds, who will be joined by her husband and other relatives Monday, said one thing she's seen among her fellow city runners is a determination to complete the race and to be a part of an event that shows the world that Boston will keep running.
"The city is going to come together and the country is going to come together," she said.